Robin Williams - Live On Broadway
In the spring of 2002 a force of nature blew into New York City. It was not a hurricane or cyclone but it arrived just as strongly, it was the live concert of Robin Williams. Williams, now know for his dramatic returns to his stand up roots. This concert should have been called ‘Robin Williams: Un-medicated", he even mentions several times that the lawyers at HBO must have been extremely worried and with good cause. There is no group left untouched by his humor, religions, home land security, the Olympics, sexuality and race are all fair game. Williams leaves no group un-insulted. There is no building in his routine, he hits the stage in full force and never let’s down for the next 124 minutes. And while we are on the time, if this HBO special follows hits predecessors and winds up on Comedy Central it will have to be reduced to about 20 minutes long.
Williams is without a doubt one of the most talented men in show business today. Just look at his recent films. He won an Oscar for his work in Good Will Hunting, was fantastic in Insomnia and has done for photo processing booths what Psycho did for showers. He really works hard in this concert. Sweat pours off Williams as he moves frantically around the stage. To compensate he drinks vast quantities of bottled water. You also have to be really up on your current events to follow a lot of his comic tales. He takes the most serious aspects of society today and uses them as fodder for is jokes. Even things like homeland security are lampooned. In one bizarre juxtaposition he talks about people with strange and multiple piercings trying to pass the airport metal detector. While some of the humor is puerile it remains just the needed relief for these troubled and difficult times.
I have seen this concert several times having taped it the night it aired. I still found myself laughing out of control when I viewed the DVD. The jokes come so fast that you need several viewings just to hear them all over your own laughter. His social commentary is funny mostly because we have all had these thoughts but never dared to put them into words. Williams has never had that portion of the brain that stands between thought and spoken word. His genetic makeup has no internal censor at all. He is the kid in the playground that told you the first dirty joke you ever heard. Only thing is this one never fully grew up, he just got funnier and incorporated the foolishness of the grown up world into his act. There is a childlike quality to Williams, a dirty mouth child but childlike nonetheless. Not matter how biting his humor becomes there is more maliciousness to it. Sure, every group in turns is held up to the humorous dissection of his rapid-fire mind but there is not hatred present in his work.
Williams is a master of voices. He goes through accents like a machine gun going off. His face takes on every thing from the innocence of a young boy to a Swiss Army instructor telling the troops how to open a bottle of wine with the corkscrew while under fire. I hope the cameramen got more than their usual pay. To follow this man during his routine required constant attention.
Unlike many comedy DVDs the fun doesn’t stop when the concert is over. There is an 18-minute chat between Williams and the director Marty Callner. They go over the problems inherent in filming a live concert, especially one that is so overly animated and dynamic. Even during this talk Williams can’t help but to let loose his enormous wit. The two men show that there was a lot that went into making this performance look so effortlessly. There is also a look at Williams just moments before he hit the stage. You get to see him warm up and get ready for this event. There is also an extra called simply ‘Noises’. Yes, it is exactly what you think, a compendium of the varied and numerous sounds that come from this creative individual. There is also an Easter egg of the many socially unacceptable words in his lexicon. The Dolby 5.1 audio is incredible. You feel that you are literally in the audience. You hear people all around you laughing, clapping and stomping their feet. While not for the children this concert will bring you up and make you laugh each and every time you watch. Turn off CNN, forget the problems of the world and sit back and enjoy.