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The Fish Licence is part one of a two-part segment of the popular British television series, Monty Python's Flying Circus. Eric Praline, played by John Cleese, takes on the role of the put-upon customer who, when seeking to obtain a licence for his pet halibut, Eric, has difficulty explaining to the clerk (Michael Palin) how all pets should be licensed. The pets he mentions are:
The clerk repeatedly calls Praline a 'loony', to which Praline angrily replies by making reference to famous people who kept odd pets. Praline remarks that he has licences for his pet dog Eric and his pet cat Eric. When the clerk says there is no such thing as a cat licence, Praline produces a dog licence form with the word "dog" crossed out and "cat" written in crayon, and explains that the man from the cat detector van (a parody of the TV detector van), which comes from the "Ministry of Housinge", didn't have the right form. Praline paid £60 for the cat licence, and 8 guineas for Eric the fruit bat.
When the clerk assures Praline there is no such thing as (and no need for) a fish licence, Praline requests a statement to that fact signed by the Lord Mayor; whereupon the superhumanly tall Lord Mayor (Graham Chapman)in full mayoral robes and regalia, surrounded by his gorgeously costumed but normal sized entourage, enters the office and hands a thunderstuck Praline the signed statement. An announcer (also Cleese) narrates the exchange, ending by saying that Praline has "gone spare".
- OpenBSD's 3.5 release contained a parody track of both the Fish Licence sketch and the song "Eric the Half a Bee", titled "CARP Licence and Redundancy Must Be Free".
- The "Eric the half-a-bee" song is one of John Cleese's personal favourites, which he vastly preferred over sketches like "Ministry of Silly Walks". It is also one of the very few songs Cleese sings himself - usually he mimes to Terry Jones.
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