The Smother Brothers/Spokane Symphony Superpops Saturday, Sept. 28, Opera House
I haven’t laughed this hard in months.
The Smothers Brothers, after more than 30 years of performing, have not lost their edge.
I used to think they were just about the funniest people on earth. After Saturday’s Superpops appearance, I still think so.
The tone was established by the introductions.
A spotlight hit Dick Smothers’ double-bass, and the announcer intoned, “Ladies and gentlemen, Mother Smothers’ favorite son.” Then the spotlight hit Tommy Smother’s guitar, and the announcer said, “And the other one.”
Tom immediately launched into an ad-lib monologue about how wonderful a symphony is “because they all have mastered their instruments and when they play together it blends symphonically which is why they call it a symphony and all of the musicians just play one note,” an observation that got the usual withering glare from Dick.
Then Tom began to ramble about how multitalented conductor Fabio Mechetti is, because in addition to being a consummate musician, he is also a pilot, an airline pilot and he …
“He is not,” said Dick. “Why are you lying?” “He told me he was a pilot,” said Tom.
“He did not,” said Dick. “He said he was a frequent flier.”
“Be that as it may,” said Tom.
The Brothers proceeded to do several songs familiar to those who collected their hit ‘60s albums, including “Cuando Caliente el Sol,” marred by Tom’s inexplicable lapse into German, and “The Impossible Dream,” interrupted by Tom’s stream-of-consciousness monologue questioning the very concept of an impossible dream. Dreams are by their nature crazy and bizarre; how can there be an impossible one?
They also attempted to do a simple vaudeville gag in which the straight line is “What kind of dog is that?” and the punchline is “Female.” Dick purposely botched the straight line numerous times, thus turning the tables on Tom, who has made a career out of frustrating Dick.
In addition to all of this Tom-and-Dick-foolery, they demonstrated some serious musical talent. Dick’s pure high voice was beautiful in the “Cuando” number, and Tom performed an accomplished interlude of classical guitar during the same tune.
And the capper of the show was Tom’s appearance as the “Yo-Yo-Man,” a silent character who demonstrates some remarkable yo-yo tricks. He was joined by Symphony trumpeter Chris Cook, a yo-yo champ, who did some impressive tricks of his own.
It inspired me to want to master the art of “Yo.”
Cook was also part of the musical high point of the show during the Symphony’s first-half segment. Trumpeters Larry Jess, William Berry and Cook combined to do an incendiary version of Leroy Anderson’s “Bugler’s Holiday.”
The program also included some arrangements of ‘60s tunes.
The Simon and Garfunkel medley was sprightly enough. But I personally could have lived my entire life without hearing an orchestral version of one of the most inane songs of all time, “MacArthur Park.”
However, the Symphony, directed by Mechetti, sounded fine on Rossini’s “La Gazza Ladra” overture.