Eric Idle, even without his Monty Python mates, proves the brilliance of the Brit troupe’s 30-year-old skits and songs has stood the test of time. Assembling an entire two-act routine around the classics, some biographical anecdotes and new humor proves a mixed bag, though — fascinating as the personal details are, Idle is not much of a standup comic, and nothing comes close to matching the hilarity of “The Philosophers Song,” the four Yorkshiremen or a re-enactment of scenes from “The Holy Grail.”
“Greedy Bastard” is a greatest-hits tour at its core, and the audience comes ready to hear classic Python skits and Rutland-related tunes and wisecracks. Idle’s timing and engaging storytelling style make up for the slumps in the humor (a few too many of the jokes are telegraphed), though the more he gets into his own story, all in the second act, the less necessary are the rapid-fire yuks.
As a youth, the comic attended a boarding school that had some miserable military school/prison-like procedures. Idle proceeded to Cambridge, working with the campus cabaret club. From there grew the beginnings of the Python troupe, beginning with his introduction to John Cleese.
The other Pythons — Cleese, Terry Gilliam, the late Graham Chapman and Michael Palin — are all spoken of glowingly, and Idle attaches neither pride nor resignation to the fact that he is still working in a forum and a vernacular from which the others have stepped away.
The beauty of Idle’s show stems from how brilliantly the Pythons constructed the routines, which have neither time nor place burdening them and require no extra explanation or updates in the text.
L.A. show was the final stop on the nearly 50-show tour that started in October; Idle next turns his attention to legit tuner “Spamelot,” based on “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”