Monday, April 9, 2007 | 7:34 a.m.
- What: "Spamalot"
- When: 8 p.m. Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays; 7 and 10 p.m. Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays
- Where: Wynn Las Vegas
- Tickets: $49 to $99; 770-9966
- Rating: HHHHK
They cram a lot into "Spamalot," mostly base humor that probably has Noel Coward spinning in his grave singing, "I'm Not Dead Yet."
So much for the droll, sophisticated British comedy of years past.
But the world has sped up. No time for comedic setups. People want to get to the punch line quickly and get on with their lives.
"Spamalot" delivers that in spades - also hearts, clubs and diamonds. It's a full deck of humor, touching on many types of comedy as it races through 90 nonstop minutes.
Most fans will find more than enough to laugh at in Eric Idle's musical (with music by Idle and John Du Prez and direction by Mike Nichols).
Based upon the 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," "Spamalot" remains true to the film's preposterous story line, situations and characters.
Yes, there is a story, though not one you really care about, just one to further the comedy, which may seem simple-minded, if not downright moronic, to some.
But you shouldn't overanalyze "Spamalot." Even better, don't analyze it at all. Simply sit back and enjoy the absurd romp through the Middle Ages.
John O'Hurley does a superb job portraying the rather pompous and dense Arthur, and he has an excellent singing voice.
O'Hurley is the star, but he has a strong supporting cast: Steven Strafford, Justin Brill, J. Anthony Crane, Harry Bouvy, Edward Staudenmayer, Randal Keith and Nikki Crawford. As in the movie, most play several roles. For example, Crane is Sir Lancelot the Homicidally Brave, the French Taunter, Knight of Ni and Tim the Enchanter.
Idle has played all the comedic cards.
Puns, visual and verbal. Slapstick. Political satire. Non-sequiturs. Gay humor. Bathroom humor. Black humor. Lots of black humor - a cart full of dead people, a killer rabbit that decapitates a knight, another knight who continues to fight even though his legs and arms have been cut off.
Parody is a favorite as "Spamalot" pokes fun at itself and Broadway ("You Won't Succeed On Broadway Without a Jew") to Las Vegas ("What happens in Camelot stays in Camelot"). Andrew Lloyd Webber takes it on the chin with "The Song That Goes Like This." So do "Don Quixote" and "Fiddler on the Roof."
If this extravagant exercise in humor can be pigeonholed, it's farce. But it is so cleverly written and well executed that it is very high farce - that sometimes sinks to low levels (as in the Flatulent Knight).
From the opening "fish slapping" scene in a Swedish village to the closing in the Holy Grail Wedding Chapel, you will laugh a lot at "Spamalot."