BBC News: Dead Parrot sketch ancestor found
An ancestor of Monty Python's famous Dead Parrot comedy sketch has been found in a joke book dating back to Greece in the 4th Century. Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, which has been translated from Greek manuscripts, contains a joke where a man complains that a slave he was sold had died. "When he was with me, he never did any such thing!" is the reply. In the Python sketch, written 1,600 years later, the shopkeeper claims the dead parrot is "pining for the fjords". The 265 jokes in Philogelos are attributed to a pair of jokers called Hierocles and Philagrius, about whom very little is known.
The Monty Python Parrot Sketch mutated a little over time, the Wikipedia page has an audio clip of it. My favourite rendition was from Margaret Thatcher at the 1990 Conservative Party conference. Hearing her on the nine o'clock news intoning "This is an ex-parrot" in reference to the Liberal Democrat party, whose logo was a stylised orange bird, was priceless.