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'Idiots' coming to Hippodrome

Sept. 25, 2003

By Erika Walter, reporter

If you're looking for a good ab workout, laughter may be just what you need. The Flaming Idiots, a three-man comedy and variety group from Austin, will perform Friday night at the Waco Hippodrome.

'Their stomach muscles will hurt from laughing,' member John O'Connor said.

For almost two decades, the trio of O'Connor, Rob Williams and Kevin Hunt has traveled all over North America performing for audiences both young and old.

'I like a younger, hipper crowd with energy, ready to have a good time,' O'Connor said. 'The show has a lot of current references. We are very much aware of what is going on â I guarantee we're the hippest thing going on in Waco that night.'

Eating four-foot-long balloons, levitating beach balls and juggling flaming objects are just some of the stunts in The Flaming Idiots' show.

'We write the show for adults,' O'Connor said. 'A lot of people think of juggling shows as birthday parties, but it really is for everybody.'

One of the most popular parts in the act is when Williams builds a bologna sandwich using only his toes, O'Connor said. Williams has done the stunt in 1:57 minutes, landing him in the Guinness Book of World Records. He has performed the bit on The Tonight Show and most recently The Steve Harvey Show.

In the last decade, The Flaming Idiots performed at four consecutive Diadelosos. Five years ago the trio began performing exclusively in theaters, and The Flaming Idiots enjoyed two successful runs on Broadway.

Peggy Fortune, Hippodrome box office manager, said the theater staff is very excited to again host such a 'fun, family performance.

'This is a great chance for people of any age to enjoy these guys,' Fortune said. 'The show works on a number of different levels. Even though it is a family show, it is not dumbed down.'

Jennifer Warren, a Waco resident and Hippodrome volunteer, said she has seen The Flaming Idiots perform seven times. She said the troop is 'well-known among theatergoers.

'They like to wow the crowd,' Warren said. 'They do things off the cuff, but they do have a routine.'

O'Connor said he met his partners when they were working at Scarborough Faire, a Renaissance festival near Waxahachie. When the guys were about 18 years old, they decided to put together an act, he said.

'I don't think we ever thought we'd be doing it 20 years later,' O'Connor said. 'People just kept offering us more work.'

He said that after a successful career together, they have decided to move onto other projects.

'This is our last year performing,' he said. 'Waco has always been a place we've liked to perform, so we thought we'd hit it one more time.'

The Flaming Idiots' last performance in Waco will be at 8 p.m. Friday at the Hippodrome. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. For more information call the Hippodrome box office at 752-9797.