Monty Python's Eric Idle starred as Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner in Houston Grand Opera's 1989 production of "The Mikado." This production, directed by Jonathan Miller, originated with the English National Opera; you might have seen the ENO production on video. Above is Eric as Ko-Ko; to the right is a backstage shot of me as a Gentleman of Japan. I also appeared at HGO that season in "Samson and Delilah" and in the Harold Prince production of "Madame Butterfly."
It's traditional for the actor playing Ko-Ko to rewrite the lyrics of his song "I've Got a Little List" to reflect the news of the day. Eric did so for every performance, and it was great fun being onstage and never knowing what was going to come out of his mouth next. I made some notes a few years after the show, trying to record Eric’s lyrics. Here’s what I could remember:
1. There's the television journalist who wears the white toupee;
Who shouts "Slime in the ice machine!" and "Roaches found today!"
(This was about Marvin Zindler, the real-life inspiration for “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” character Melvin P. Thorpe.)
2. The vampy female singer with long hair who's very rude;
Who spends a fortune on her clothes to look like she's quite nude.
(Cher, maybe? Madonna?)
3. And ancient British Stones who rolling into town insist;
But now their show I've missed,
So I am a little pissed.
(The Rolling Stones played a concert in Houston on November 9th; we had a show that evening too.)
4. And poncy little singers who to entertain us try
By dressing up like women and by singing far too high
(Boy George? Michael Jackson?)
5. (...don't remember...) who shops until she drops,
And Beverly Hills actresses who beat up traffic cops.
(The latter about Zsa Zsa Gabor)
6. And trendy plastic surgeons who treat women like the pits,
Who suck away their backsides and build huge inflated...bits.
And there were apparently lyrics about someone in a commercial who said he would "save you money", and also about renaming local airports. But that's all I got!