Monty Python alumnus and Spamalot creator Eric Idle’s new musical What About Dick? tells the story of the “birth of a sex toy invented in Shagistan in 1898 by Deepak Obi Ben Kingsley” (Eddie Izzard). It’s also about the decline of the British Empire as told by a piano (Idle). Oh, there’s quite a bit more, but I won’t rehearse the plot—let’s get right to a clip, shall we? In the above number, “What About Asstrology,” Aunt Maggie (Tracey Ullman) and the young Dick (Russell Brand), who live together in an Edwardian novel, sing about her metaphysical talent for reading the future on people’s bums. The exchange begins: “What is it exactly that you do?” to which Ullman responds in Cockney, “I’m an aaassss reader.” Then they launch into song. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds, and as funny (if that’s what you’re into), and partakes of the Pythons’ unique ability to skewer the pretensions of religion, new age goofiness, and hocus pocus of all kinds with classic music hall humor and flatulence jokes.
So mark your calendars: this November 13 is “Dick Day,” when What About Dick? is available for digital download, and you’ll want to get your hands on it (sorry). Idle ratchets up his profane silliness with a cast “you’ll never see… together again doing something like this.” Idle has assembled the finest minds of British comedy for a show he calls “Oscar Wilde on acid or like Downton Abbey, only funnier”: Brand, Ullman, Idle, Billy Connolly, Tim Curry, Eddie Izzard, Jane Leeves, Jim Piddock, and Sophie Winkleman. If this cast doesn’t make you shoot out of your chair and yell Hooray for Dick! or something like that, you’re clearly not the proper audience for this show.
Go ahead, watch the trailer right above and visit the official site for updates and more awkward, off-color Britishisms.
Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.