SNL Transcripts: Michael Palin: 05/12/79: The Adventures of Miles Cowperthwaite


 Saturday Night Live Transcripts

  Season 4: Episode 18

78r: Michael Palin / James Taylor

The Adventures of Miles Cowperthwaite

Fred Silverman…..John Belushi

[ open on graphic: “Family Classics” ]

Announcer: Tonight: “Family Classics” continues its second season, with Part II of the new Dickins novel Miles Cowperthwaite.

[ dissolve to copy of book resting on tabletop ]

Miles Cowperthwaite, by Charles Dickins. As told to Robert Louis Stevenson and Rafael Salbatini.

[ hand turns book to first page ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “The wretched birth, miserable childhood, agonizingly painful adolescence, and appallingly vile and degrading death of Miles Cowperthwaite.

[ turns page to Chapter Two ]

Chapter Two: ‘I Am Nailed To The Hull’.

“It having been determined by my benefactor that a term of service at sea would make a man, I accordingly left Pinckley Hall in the company of Captain Ned, and put out from Bristol aboard his ship The Raging Queen.

Captain Ned, I learned from my shipmates, was a very manly, virile, manful person, and a firm believer in strict discipline, corporal punishment, and nude apartment wrestling. How truly strict he was, I learned on our first day out of port, when out First Mate called all hands on deck for an important annoucement.”

[ dissolve onto scenes aboard The Raging Queen ] [ First Mate Spunk rings the deck bell ]

First Mate Spunk: Alright, please, everybody, please! Welcome aboard The Raging Queen! Now, of course, I can’t possibly introduce everybody, so you’re just going to have to wear your little name tags. And if that’s the worst thing you’ll wear on this voyage, you’re lucky. Now, before I introduce Captain Ned, there’s some quiche over here, some salad, and some banana bread in the bowl, and there should be a brie around, if someone hasn’t eaten it. And now, here is our own Captain Ned!

[ Captain Ned steps up ]

Captain Ned: Thank you, Mr. Spunk. Gentlemen, we have on board a young man whose name is Miles Cowperthwaite! And I have promised his guardian to teach him the man’s life at sea! To show him man’s ports, such as Key West and San Fransisco! I expect him to be treated manfully! Well, Miles, have you anything to say?

Miles Cowperthwaite: [ stsnds, cheerful ] Well.. I’m very grateful for this opportunity, Captain Ned! Up ’til now, my life has been the most degrading, pathetic, soul-destroying, humiliating, awful grovel..

Captain Ned: [ interrupting ] That’s enough, Miles.. [ Miles sits ] Now, men, I run a mans’ ship. I will run it in a manful and masculine way! I will tolerate no men under my command who act in such a way so as to discredit their manhood and manliness! Do I make myself clear?

First Mate Spunk: Three cheer for Captain Ned!

[ the men cheer ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “If there were any doubts as to Captain Ned’s severity, they were quickly dispelled that very afternoon, when a scuffle broke out on deck.”

[ Spunk approaches a Sailor tanning ]

First Mate Spunk: That’s my tanning spot! you! You’re in my spot! That’s my spot!

Sailor #1: You are daft! I’ve been here all morning. Now, run along, you are blocking my sun.

First Mate Spunk: Don’t you give me any back-sass, you tan tease!

[ fight breaks out; Captain Ned intervenes ]

Captain Ned: Is this how men act on a man’s ship? Where is your manliness? Fighting on deck is a serious breach on my articles of strict discipline! I’m afraid the guilty party is in for a very severe punishment!

Sailor #1: Captain.. I did indeed take Mr. Spunk’s spot. I’m ready to accept my punishment..

First Mate Spunk: Captain! I threw the first blow. If anyone is to be punished, let it be me. I ask only that whatever you do, please don’t put me in a tight-fitting Lassie costume and make me eat from a monogrammed dog dish.

Sailor #2: [ entering ] Captain, I encouraged this fight – punish me! Make me wear nipple-pinching clothespins, sir!

Sailor #3: [ entering ] Me, Captain! Punish me!

Captain Ned: Stop! I’ve heard enough! Your manly admission of guilt is most manful. However, as your Captain, it is I who must bear the full masculine responsibility! And therefore, I will be punished. Spunk! Take me alone! I want a boiling oil rub..

[ Spunk drags Captain below decks for his punishment ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “Having had no seafaring experience, I was surprised at how different the life of a sailor was from what I had imagined. Our day began at dawn, where, after a hearty breakfast, we had punishment ’til lunchtime. After lunch, there was more punishment ’til dinner. After dinner, we would pull up anchor and sail for an hour, then drop anchor again for soem verbal humiliation, followed by evening punishment. I imagine that the crew is quite used to it, for in all my rounds with the ship surgeon, Dr. Pierce, I never once heard a man complain.”

[ Miles follows Dr. Pierce during one of his rounds ]

Miles Cowperthwaite: Sir? I was thinking, wouldn’t we make better progress if we was under sail 14 hours a day, and had punishment only two hours a day, instead of the other way ’round?

Dr. Pierce: Miles, my boy, you have much to learn. Wihout strict discipline, we’d have mutiny on this ship.

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh.

Dr. Pierce: [ examines his patient’s knee ] Let’s see. Ooh.. I don’t like the looks of that leg, Mr. Tarvox. I’m afraid we’ll have to take it off.

Mr. Tarvox: Really?

Dr. Pierce: Yes, I’m afraid so. And probably the arm, as well.

Miles Cowperthwaite: [ confused ] The arm?! Why the arm, Doctor?

Dr. Pierce: Well, to get the leg. Look. It’s rather in the way, see? [ indicates Tarvox’s arm resting on his leg ]

Miles Cowperthwaite: Why can’t he hold the arm out of the way.

Dr. Pierce: Well, that’s.. fine.. if you’d rather do that.

Mr. Tarvox: Yes, sir. Please.

Dr. Pierce: Okay. Now, don’t worry, Mr. Tarvox, you won’t feel a thing. You’ll wake up, and they’ll be gone.

Mr. Tarvox: They?

Dr. Pierce: It. It’ll be gone. Uh.. I guarantee you won’t know which one is missing.

Mr. Tarvox: Oh.

Dr. Pierce: Any preferences? [ Tarvox gives a strange look ] Good. Good. Okay, we’ll take the.. the..

Miles Cowperthwaite: Leg.

Dr. Pierce: ..leg.. off on Thursday, okay? First thing. You’ll be fine. You’ll be fine.. [ walks off to have a drink ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “Perhaps this isn’t the routine of an ordinary sailor: floggings, stockings, key haulings, kneeling on our knuckles, having things dropped on our heads, being pushed down stairs, and so on. But occasionally, there would be time for activities such as steering the ship, and trying to make the sails fill up with wind. Captain Ned took a warm, personal interest in my welfare, and if a night was stormy, or even mildy choppy, he would ocme to my cabin to comfort me.”

[ Captain Ned enters Miles’ room as he prays beside his bed ]

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh. Captain Ned.

Captain Ned: [ grinning ] Hello, Miles. Uh.. I was worried that you might be.. “frightened” by the masty weather.. [ unbuttons the top of his pajamas ]

Miles Cowperthwaite: But, Captain Ned, sir, it is perfectly calm tonight!

Captain Ned: Just so.. with the stormy weather we’ve been having lately, I was afraid this.. sudden calm might alarm you. Because I’ve seen grown men – manly men, in the full pride of their mahood, grow white with terror on serene, tranquil nights as this!

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh, that is very kind of you, sir.. [ chuckles nervously ] [ Captain Ned blows out the candle besides Miles’ bed, leaving the room in total darkness ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “So dangerously flaccid did that night become, thus Captain Ned remained in my cabin to reassure me until dawn, when we were aroused by a shout from Mr. Spunk..”

First Mate Spunk: [ peering through telescope ] Land ahoy! Land ahoy! Oh, my God, I don’t know.. oh, it might be land, maybe it’s another boat.. Oh, daft, it might me a cloud! No, I can’t tell, this damn thing is torturing me. Oh, maybe it’s a cloud, I’m not sure, oh dear!

Captain Ned: [ walking up ] Mr. Spunk! Have you spied land?

First Mate Spunk: I’m not sure! Somebody else get up here and look! If I say it’s land, and we make for it and it’s not, I’ll get yelled for it!

Captain Ned: Alright! [ peers through telescope ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “What Mr. Spunk had sighted was not land at all, but a small, open boat. Which, upon closer inspection, was found to contain two remarkable passengers.”

[ two women climb onboard The Raging Queen ]

Captain Ned: [ greeting them ] I am Captain Ned, of The Raging Queen! Tell me.. are there any males with you?

Madeline Warrington: No. Just my sister and I.

Ruth Warrington: Yes. My name is Ruth Warrington. This is my sister Madeline. We were crossing the West Indies, when pirates seized our ship. They took our entire crew prisoners.

Captain Ned: [ thinking ] Hmm.. Uh.. can you tell me, were these pirates manly and verile?

Madeline Warrington: They were contemptible animals, who subjected our ship’s crew to the most unspeakable torture!

First Mate Spunk: Do you suppose these pirates might still be anywhere in the area.

Ruth Warrington: Yes. I’m afraid they may yet be very close..

Captain Ned: I see. [ runs to address his crew ] Men! There are pirates in these waters! Pirates who inflict hideous punishment to those who fall into their hands! [ crew oohs ] Now, we can turn tail and run. Or, we can take the many course, that which our manhood demands! Find these despots of discipline, and comfort them! What is your answer!!

Crew: Find the pirates!!

Captain Ned: So it will be done! Stand by to incur the waters!

[ crew wave out to see, in search of the pirates ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “Despite six months spent in the endevour, our search for the pirates proved unsuccessful. And so at length we put into port at Key West, where we took on a supply of omelet pans and did the costumes for a production of ‘Take Her, She’s Mine’. These were pleasant times. With Captain Ned ashore buying melons, discipline was less severe, and his trips to my cabin to comfort me less frequent. One night, however, as I lay in bed writing a letter to Lord Pinckley, I heard an unfamilair knock at my door.”

[ a knock at the door ]

Miles Cowperthwaite: Come in?

[ the Warrington sisters enter ]

Ruth Warrington: Hello, Miles. We came to see if you were alright.

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh.

Madeline Warrington: Yes. We were worried that the cool sea air, combined with the saltiness of the spray, and the closeness of ships in the harbor might have alarmed you.

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh. Well, that’s very kind of you, but I’m not frightened! Are you alright?

Ruth Warrington: Well.. these past six months at sea aboard The Raging Queen have been somewhat frightening.

Miles Cowperthwaite: Begging your pardon, ma’am.. but have any of the men on board.. well.. tried to take liberties with you.

Madeline Warrington: No. No, not really.

Ruth Warrington: No. We haven’t been harmed at all.

Miles Cowperthwaite: [ happy ] Oh! Well, ma’am, I suspect that’s due to the discipline Captain Ned employs on this ship! For this crew is an unsavory lot!

Madeline Warrington: Yes, I suspect so. [ removing clothes ] Hey, Miles, it is terribly hot in here!

Ruth Warrington: Isn’t it, Madeline? [ removes her clothes as well ]

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh, it’s alright for me!

Madeline Warrington: Perhaps we can comfort you, then, Miles?

[ Captain Ned enters; the girls jump up ]

Captain Ned: Hello, Miles.

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh! Captain Ned!

Captain Ned: Hello, Miss Warrington. Miss Warrington. Miles, I hurried back, as, uh.. I was afraid that the excitement of the last several months at sea, combined with the change of seasons might have alarmed you.

Miles Cowperthwaite: Oh, that’s very kind of you, Captain..

Ruth Warrington: Excuse me, Captain, but we were comforting Miles.

Madeline Warrington: Wait! Perhaps we can all comfort Miles!

[ a look of distress falls upon Miles’ face ]

Captain Ned: Very well. I see nothing unmanly in that.

[ the three of them undress and climb into Miles’ bed ]

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: “Of all that I have suffered since going to sea, nothing could compare to the constant comforting of Captain Ned and the Warrington sisters. And I resolved to escape from The Raging Queen at the first opportunity.” ] [ show Miles walking across the ship in disguise ]

“One night, while the crew was below doing exercises to flatten their stomachs, I stole the Second Mate’s coat, collected my few belongings, and lowered myself over the mast.”

[ Miles jumps overboard ]

“A war took place after I hit the water. I have very little recollection. I was evidently quite ill for a very long time, and the next thing I remember seeing was the friendly face of Dr. Pierce.”

Dr. Pierce: He’s coming around..

Ruth Warrington: Oh, thank God!

Miles Cowperthwaite: [ dazed ] Where am I?

Madeline Warrington: You’re back on board The Raging Queen, Miles.

Dr. Pierce: Yes. You were very lucky. One of the crew saw you fall overboard.

Ruth Warrington: Captain Ned will be so relieved. He’s been with you every moment, Miles.. comforting you.

Dr. Pierce: Well, Miles, I suspect you’ll be strong enough to go under the knife in a couple of days, huh?

Miles Cowperthwaite: [ worried ] What?! What do you mean, Dr. Pierce?!

Dr. Pierce: The legs, Miles. I’m afraid they’ll have to come off. Now, I’ve only got one pegleg aboard, but I can get you a nice hook for the bottom of this left knee. As soon as we reach port, we’ll go shopping for a nice wooden one.

Miles Cowperthwaite: But, sir! Must I lose my legs?

Dr. Pierce: I’m afriad so, Miles. When we pulled you out of the water, your legs were.. soaking wet.

Miles Cowperthwaite V/O: From the moment I learned that Dr. Pierce has designs on my legs, I decided to repeat my attempt at escape whatever the risk involved.

[ show Miles sneaking across the ship in disguise ]

The very next morning, after one final night of comforting from Captain Ned, I once more stowed out of my cabin and lowered myself over the side, this time completely undetected.

[ Miles jumps overboard ]

And so my term of service at sea had come to an end. Once again, I found myself quite alone in the world, with little capitol and few prospects. Of the details of my escape from The Raging Queen, as well as my adventures subsequent thereto, the reader shall learn in my next chapter: ‘I Am Eaten By Sharks’.”

[ close ]

SNL Transcripts

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Author: Don Roy King

Don Roy King has directed fourteen seasons of Saturday Night Live. That work has earned him ten Emmys and fourteen nominations. Additionally, he has been nominated for fifteen DGA Awards and won in 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Robert Anderson
Robert Anderson
3 years ago

Is this avaiable on video?

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