Flame on: Gyro, Pyro and Walter pre-juggle with balls and rings in hand.
Flame on: Gyro, Pyro and Walter pre-juggle with balls and rings in hand.

Farewell to the Flame

We want men who can cook, juggle every little thing and also suck it up and swallow it whole. And that's just what we'll get on Saturday. Well, kind of.

As audience members at McFarlin Auditorium, what we'll actually get is a man juggling change and a man who swallows balloons. And--lest we forget the rare fellow who "cooks"--there's always the man who can make a bologna sandwich...with his feet.

For almost 20 years, the Flaming Idiots, a trio of guys we can only describe as comedic stuntmen, have been entertaining and interacting with audiences live and televised. Stage, sidewalk and Jay Leno have all hosted them at some point in their career as funnymen. They began with fake English accents and the masochistic urge to sweat it out in the Texas heat at Waxahachie's Scarborough Faire in the late '80s. Performing onstage and amid the crowds, the three guys calling themselves Gyro, Pyro and Walter practiced their juggling, knife throwing, flame eating, syncopation and audience banter for 15 years before taking the leap to an off-Broadway theater in 2001. They landed as sure-footed as possible with 15 sold-out shows on their first go and accolades from The New York Times and New York Daily News.


The Flaming Idiots perform their final show 8 p.m. Saturday at McFarlin Auditorium, 2501 Boaz, on the campus of Southern Methodist University. Tickets are $20 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger. Click on www.flamingidiots.com or call 214-528-5576.

Offering relevant goofs on politics in addition to their physical and slapstick stunts, the Idiots also give a show dedicated to satisfying fans. Flawless stunts come as often as flubbed ones, but it's not an indication that the Idiots are poor showmen. The mistakes are part of the experience and part of their comedic genius.

Defying perfection, the trio supplies the audience with the invaluable gift of self-deprecating humor. Performers and audience members-cum-stunt victims can laugh at themselves and one another. The uptight and unwilling attendees should loosen up or at least hide their fear and hope for a seat way the hell in the back. Because they'll find you. And chances are, they'll make you glad they did.

Unfortunately, the Flaming Idiot's Saturday performance marks their final one, as they will disband to pursue other goals. Rob Williams (Gyro), Jon O'Connor (Pyro) and Kevin Hunt (Walter)--who years ago abandoned what could have been lucrative careers for McDonald's Corp., Tandy Corp. and in aircraft technology, respectively, in order to bring smiles to the faces of those still workin' for the man--are calling it quits. And it is a shame.

Our only hope is that none of the three jokesters ever loses the true Idiot in each of them. At the very least, as the Flaming Idiots act lies down for the Big Sleep, they can rest well knowing they got the Big Laugh.


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