"Know what I mean, know what I mean, nudge nudge? Say no more, say no more."
No more need be said. Eric Idle, the creator of these immortal lines and many of the other most beloved routines to come out of the one-of-a-kind British TV comedy Monty Python's Flying Circus and of that troupe's subsequent feature films, is coming to town to perform this weekend. At this writing, good seats are still available, which is too bizarre and surreal a concept even to make a good Python sketch. Who are these poor souls so deluded that they think they can afford to miss a visitation by one of the seminal zanies from the troupe who taught us to "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life," to relish Spam bacon eggs and Spam, and to always expect the Spanish Inquisition?
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Among the Pythons, Terry Jones and Michael Palin were a writing team; so were John Cleese and the late Graham Chapman. The sole Yank, Terry Gilliam, worked on his own, creating the animations and occasionally playing small onscreen roles. Idle, a Durham, England, native and Cambridge grad, also wrote on his own, concocting many of the group's best sketches and most of the songs: marvelous anthems such as "Eric the Half a Bee" and the classic "Lumberjack Song" ("I cut down trees/I skip and jump/I like to press wild flow'rs/I put on women's clothing/And hang around in bars").
Idle, by phone from Seattle, promises all this and much more will be seen onstage in his new revue Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python at the Orpheum this Saturday. "You'll see 12 people on stage, full costumes, lumberjacks and nudge nudge and all of it." Who are the other members of the company, dubbed the Rutland Sympathy Orchestra, to which Idle has entrusted these precious routines? "I've hand-picked them; they're very silly," he says reassuringly. "I've got musicians like a saxophone player who doesn't mind dressing up like a sperm or a bee." And will Mr. Smoketoomuch deliver his endless rant about the perils of holidays abroad to his hapless travel agent Mr. Bounder? "You bet," says Idle. "I love doing that." Audience members may also come in their silliest outfits and participate in a game of "Spot the Looney."
Phoenix has the honor to be the first stop on the revue's 30-city tour. "A lot of the stuff, like 'Every Sperm Is Sacred' or 'The Galaxy Song,' has never been done ever onstage," notes Idle. "And Phoenix is the world premiere. The words to the songs will be projected, by the way, and the audience is required to sing along." Like anybody could stop us.
Eric Idle Exploits Monty Python plays at 8 p.m. Saturday, April 29, at the Orpheum Theatre, 203 West Adams. Tickets are $50 and $75. For details call 480-503-5555 (Dillard's).