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General Information - Album

Cover of Reality... What a Concept!
  • Directed by

    Brooks Arthur (also directed Night at the Met) and Neil Bogart

  • Written by

    Robin Williams

  • Recording Date

    1979

  • Location

    The Copacabana, New York City, NY
    The Boarding House, San Francisco, CA

  • Production Companies

    Casablanca Records, Filmworks

  • Album dedicated to

    Laura Berry Smith

Summary (album)

Robin's first comedy album. The material, which was taped on his tour, is similar to that found in "Live at the Roxy."

Quotes

I wonder what chairs think about all day. "Oops, here comes another asshole."

Background information

Somehow we got in touch with Raoul who worked with Robin during his 1979 tour. We asked him for info and some funny stories, and this is what he sent us. Thanks so much for this information, Raoul!

I was then and am still now a musician in the Bay Area specializing in comedy. Shortly after I arrived in San Francisco I hooked up with a comical musedy outfit called Freaky Ralph and the Pointless Sisters. Ralph was much more diligent about making the rounds of the comedy clubs than I was, and one day in 1974 or '75 he told me about this guy he'd seen at the Mustard Seed that he predicted was going to blow the roof off of Comedy As We Know It. Of course, Ralph was completely wrong--the guy he picked lost in the Comedy Competition to Bill Farley.

But a couple of years later The Pointless Sisters had lost Ralph (his failure at prognostication had nothing to do with it) and we were headlining a kinda post-modern vaudeville show called Bowery Jack Ratigan's Something Something Revue, and one of the many acts warming up for us (I jest when I say we were the headliners--we were simply last on the program, for anyone in the audience too exhausted by the cavalcade of entertainment that had preceded us to get out of their seats) was that same young up-and-comer, Robin Williams, hairy even then. His acting chops were recognizable, although his act bore no relation to the stream-of-consciousness free-for-all for which he later grew famous. It was more your standard string of jokes, interspersed with little black-out solo sketches that relied more on his commitment than wit (the only one I remember: "Ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching, ka-ching [the sound--and appearance--of a tough cowboy entering a saloon]... daiquiri with lots of crushed ice [said in a very effeminate voice]."

We got to be... well, "friends" is too strong a word, but I'd definitely say we were warm acquaintances. Warm enough that when, a couple of years later, I had defected from the Pointless Sisters and joined a new comical musedy group, The Rick & Ruby Show, Robin came to check us out at the Other Cafe. At the time we were Almost Famous, at least on the local level, and Robin was just starting to get work in Hollywood, so we invited him to be our opening act at our first Really Big Gig, at the Boarding House. It was during either that run or our next Boarding House shows that Robin became Incredibly Famous, and we had to switch the billing, having him headline for us.

And then, a year or so later, he went out on his first tour, and invited us to be his opening act and, not incidentally, form the core of his back-up band. He wanted to include music in his show, and to that end hired his first wife's old college buddy, Jonathan Katz (later to be widely known as the professional therapist on the Comedy Channel and in the Sunday funnies) to write a couple of novelty songs. (One of them, "Born To Be Punished", was co-written by famous playwright David Mamet.) Rounding out the band were our old friend Scott Matthews on drums and Brooks's NY pal "Cooker" LoPresti. Cooker, being an old hand at this, had the presence of mind to file a union contract listing him as "band leader", so he got double scale. This was one band that had no less than three leaders--Cooker on paper, Jonathan as composer, and me as big bossy boots who couldn't keep his mouth shut.

We played all the dates of the tour, which went out for a week or so every month or so over the course of a year. We did a week at the Boarding House, a week or two in New York at the Copacabana, a week or so in the midwest (Chicago, Ann Arbor, Minneapolis, Milwaukee--where a very young Will Durst saw his first comedy show and said "I wanna try that!"--"that", he later told me, referring to Rick & Ruby's act), a night or so in Santa Barbara and a night or so in Boulder (Mork & Mindy's "home") and a night or so in LA.

One night at the Copa Robin's wife ran back to our dressing room and told me he'd just asked me to come on stage and accompany a new piece, "Death of A Sperm Ballet". It made it onto the album (where pretty much all you hear is me playing piano and the audience laughing--all the sight gags are sorely absent) and was the seed that eventually grew into my current career (if you can call it a career) of accompanying improvisation. For that and so many other things, I am eternally grateful to Robin.

On the last night of the tour, at the Universal Amphitheater, Mork & Mindy's producer, Dale McCraven came to see the show, and liked our opening set quite a bit. He invited us to pitch ideas for a guest appearance on the show, and the hope was that would do for Rick & Ruby what Robin's guest shot on Happy Days did for him. After many pitches were greeted with silence, we took our rock band, Theee STUPEDS (specializing in cover versions of lame top 40 songs) to the Comedy Store in LA, and Dale came to see that as well (maybe the fact that his son was sitting in with us on drums had something to do with it) and got the idea for the script that became show #68."

The following story could not be copied here exactly, so here's an abbreviated version:

One time when everyone was in the Limo, they got a flat tire in front of Jim Belushi's favorite bar. The bar stayed open longer than usual and the musicians and Robin made up new songs while waiting.

Gallery

Comments

Availability

This album is currently unavailable in any format. It was previously available on LP and CD, but the LP is out of print and the CD cannot be republished for various reasons.

Track List

01. Nicky Lenin (7:58)
02. Pop Goes the Weasel (4:05)
03. Kindergarten For the Stars (1:44)
04. A Touch Of Fairfax (1:04)
05. Reverend Earnest Angry (7:38)
06. Shakespeare (A Meltdowner's Nightmare) (10:49)
07. Tank You, Boyce (0:23)
08. Roots People (1:50)
09. Hollywood Casting Session (1:44)
10. Come Inside My Mind (2:27)
11. Grandpa Funk (4:13)

Downloads

Death of a Sperm Ballet
2.8 Mb (mp3 file - audio only)

Come Inside My Mind
5.4 Mb (mp3 file - audio only)

Fun Fact

This can be read on the cover of the LP:

"Special Thanks to Jonathan Winters for giving me the spark" - ROBIN!

Awards

  • Grammy Awards

    Won - 1979 - Best Comedy Recording

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