by Hans ten Cate
Sunday, 22 September 1996

One of the funniest and most unusual gags of Cornerstone Communication's original Act I trading cards (or indeed of any card series ever created) is the very rare Scratch-and-Listen card.

The card (found in about 1 out of every 436 packs) features a scratch-off strip revealing a toll-free telephone number. When you call, the listener is greeted with several minutes of Python material from "Monty Python's Previous Record." "The original idea," Walter Rowan told the Daily Llama, "was to have one of the Pythons give about a minute of verbal abuse to the caller." In any case, callers were informed to send in the scratched-off card for a special "Fish Slapping Dance" redemption card only available through the redemption process.

Funnier than perhaps even the card itself, is the story behind its creation. During pre-production meetings, the people at Cornerstone were discussing ideas for the Flying Circus cards. "Since we are all Python fans ourselves," explains Cornerstone's Operations Manager Darren Johnson, "we wanted to make the card set as silly as we could, in the tradition of the classic television show sketches."

Johnson continues, "John and Walt were kicking around the idea of a 'Scratch 'n' Sniff Cheese Shop Checklist Card' when I blurted out the stupidest thing I've ever said in my life: 'How 'bout 'Scratch 'n' Listen' cards?'" This gave everyone a good laugh. So excited were the fellows at Cornerstone, they mentioned the card in their very first press release. Even before they had figured out what a scratch-and-listen card would be, Cornerstone began receiving calls from eager collectors and card dealers. One trade publication even listed the Scratch-and-Listen card and its price even before the cards had been released.

Now the hard part: what to do with the card? Would it feature a small microchip? Would it include a digitally recorded strip? Needing to live up to their original press release, a deadline to keep, and budget constraints, Cornerstone decided to create a foil card with a scratch-off strip. With the toll-free telephone number, card-owners would certainly be scratching and listening! A crisis had been avoided and a truly original and funny card had been created. Says Johnson, "Needless to say, I am no longer allowed to participate in preproduction meetings."

Note that, while the special scratch-and-listen offer officially ended 10 April 1995, Cornerstone will still honor the redemption as long as the company has redemption cards. They will send back a set of all 4 Python foil cards, the original 'Scratch-and-Listen' card, an unscratched 'Scratch-and-Listen' card, and a special Python card (while supplies last of course). The special toll-free number is no longer active so you will have to reach them at their usual toll-free number (1-800-846-7725) or their direct number (520/722-1304).

Card design Copyright © 1995 Cornerstone Communications, Inc., All Rights Reserved. All images are Copyright © Python (Monty) Pictures, Ltd.


  • Darren Johnson, "Card Scratch Fever" in Cornerstone Communications' The Inside Trader, Issue Number Two, Winter 1996, p. 5.