Comedy Review: Robin Williams, Vector Arena

By Russell Baillie

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Robin Williams. Photo / Supplied
Robin Williams. Photo / Supplied

Save for some solid dramatic roles, Robin Williams' screen career has largely gone from Mork to mawkish.

But anyone expecting Mrs Doubtfire: Live from the comedy superstar's madly entertaining stand-up show at Vector (only the second comedian to fill the place, after Bill Connolly) was going to be in for a shock.

A rude crude shock. He quite possibly out-swore Connolly, which is no mean feat. And his routine - equal parts political, pharmaceutical, sexual and scatalogical - seemed calibrated for maximum coarseness.

Perhaps it was to remind us that he was once a free-thinking, edgy, live comedy wonderboy before his Disney-fication. And an influential figure to any comedian since who thought there can be more to stand-up than just getting to the punchline.

But it worked a treat, right from the start when Aussie duo the Umbilical Brothers proved the perfect curtain-raiser, their combo of sound effects, mimic and mime neatly projecting to the distant back rows (quite literally, you had to be there) and making fine use of the Schwarzenegger impersonation which they've dragged across the Tasman a few times before.

And Williams dragged them back for an Ah-nuld revival during his encore.

Ninety minutes earlier, Williams bounced on stage to start a routine that quickly found its high gear and barely let up throughout.

True, some jokes had gone long past their best-before - that one about Bono at the end? Didn't Connolly do that? And now it's an elephant dying every time he claps his hands, not an African child?

There were some fluffed lines too. Like a mix-up between Jeb Bush of Florida and George W. of Texas, as well as Sarah Palin being able to see Alaska from her backyard. Uh, she can. Oh, and in a rapidfire routine about what if movie stars yesteryear had done porn, his Gregory Peck sounded a lot like Sean Connery.

But his John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart, as well as the encore of venerated American newsreader Walter Cronkite telling a blue joke from another era, were terrific.

It was all in the delivery, and the more characters Williams juggled, the funnier it was - whether it was your cat psyching out your dog about being man's best friend, an impression of a coven of tweens texting and tweeting each other, or possibly best of all, a team from God's Intelligent Design consultancy working on human genitalia.

One or two of his own movies came in for some amusing attention along the way, too.

But while his lesser flicks have made many tire of Williams' schtick, live in Auckland, this long-time King of Comedy reclaimed his crown.

- NZ Herald

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