Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

April 14, 2008

The Smothers Brothers & Springfield Symphony Orchestra

Symphony Hall, Springfield
April 12
By Shera Cohen

Tommy is age 70 and Dickie is age 68. Yet, the Smothers Brothers performance might as well have taken place in the 1960s. The “boys” never skipped a beat in impeccable timing, topical humor, irreverence, and their well-known stage personas. By the way, each aged very well.

Tommy’s trademark stupidity and naiveté bounced off brother Dickie’s exasperation and seriousness just as they had done throughout the past 50 years. Yes, a half-century! The audience got exactly what they expected in style, comedy, and music. Which was more perfect – the material or the delivery? It’s a toss up. Each went hand-in-hand to create a terrific show.

There was simply too much to remember for this critic to write, because the performance was extremely fast-paced and funny. Among the highlights were the following: the trilogy of “dog songs” coupled with a lame dog joke; the feigned gratefulness to perform in Springfield; and Tommy’s avocation as a trained pilot. As his brother commented, “Just because you accumulated thousands of skymiles, it doesn’t make you an airline pilot.”

Sometimes, it’s forgotten that the brothers are also very skilled musicians. With Tommy on guitar and Dickie on bass, their music and voices (Dickie, the better singer) make for an important part of the act – that is until Tommy always interrupts. The duo never managed through an entire song, but that’s what the routine is all about.

When music segued into comedy, that was the best of the routines; i.e. a tender Spanish song reverted to German, then yodeling (Tommy’s the culprit, of course). Another “normal” melody turned its notes to “Dueling Guitars,” only this time guitar vs. piano.

Special appearance by The Yo Yo Man (Tommy) and Voice of Yo (Dickie) had both back and forth on stage performing yo yo tricks and extemporaneous commentary. Who would think that a yo yo could be that much fun to watch?

A video of the brothers’ lives capped off the evening. The longest section showed excerpts from “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour,” including anti-Vietnam scripts, commentary by Pat Paulson, and being axed in the prime of the series. Thank goodness, the boys never really went away.