The last time Eric Idle took a road trip to performances in the United States, it was a three-month, 15,000-mile trek on a rock 'n' roll-style tour bus that yielded a rambling 2003 book with a typically self-effacing title, "The Greedy Bastard Diary."
In October, Idle hits the highway again, this time with fellow Monty Python icon John Cleese, on a tour that begins with 11 shows in Florida. They will travel by car, which will allow them to sneak up on unsuspecting locals.
"I found a cheese shop in Saratoga and I'm going to take John in and see if they freak!" Idle tweeted on the eve of the Oct. 1 tour-opening show in Sarasota.
The reference to the New York State racing hub could be humor (or spell check), but more than likely symbolizes the reason Idle is so excited about what he calls "the World Tour of Florida": The Sunshine State is a mystery to him.
"Apart from Disney World, where I was a ride for many years …" he says, breaking the last word into two faux-formal syllables, as he did on the Pythons' fake newscasts. "I haven't been to Florida since the opening of that ride, Honey I Shrunk the Audience."
Idle and Cleese will perform Oct. 7 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach and Oct. 10 at the Fillmore Miami Beach during the month-long tour of a show titled "John Cleese and Eric Idle: Together Again at Last … for the Very First Time."
It is, in fact, the first time the two have toured together, though the idea is four decades old, Idle says. It was in the 1970s that Cleese and Idle discussed escaping the brutal English winters with a tour of Australia. Cleese suggested they do Florida, where the tropical heat, maneating snakes and alligators offer a nice facsimile of Australia, Idle says.
"I like to go to places I've never been, especially when you approach it by road, where you can stop, walk around the place and have a look. I like the adventure of it," he says.
Speaking from his home in Los Angeles, Idle says the show itself is also an adventure. There will be a loose format, with each doing individual bits (Idle singing a song or two) as well as routines together, but leaving plenty of room for unscripted irreverence.
Cleese and Idle have known each other since the 1960s, when they worked with the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club.
"We've been doing this sort of rubbish for 50 years," Idle says, laughing. "We're not going to run out of things to talk about, but it will be an odd hybrid evening. I call it the IKEA tour. We'll bring the parts, and you'll screw it together."
Just as the tour opens, Idle will publish "The Writer's Cut: A Post-Ironic Novel," a satire of the publishing industry and Hollywood, set during George W. Bush's presidency. "The Writer's Cut" is scheduled for release Oct. 5 by digital publisher Canelo.
"It's a jolly good swipe at everyone, really. It mocks Hollywood. It mocks the star system. It's quite filthy," Idle says, his voice rising. "And it's just comic."
Idle says the publishers first approached him about writing his memoir.
"I'm not going to write my bloody memoir," he says. "It's bad enough I'm living it. I don't have to write it."
John Cleese and Eric Idle will perform 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, 701 Okeechobee Blvd., in West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $59.50. Call 800-572-8471 or visit Kravis.org. Cleese and Idle also will perform 7:30 p.m. Oct. 10 at the Fillmore Miami Beach, 1700 Washington Ave. Tickets cost $59.50-$99.50. Call 305-673-7300 or visit FillmoreMB.com. More information: CleeseAndIdle.com