Review for Milwaukee, WI

Performed on September 28, 2008 | Milwaukee Theater

Williams blasts comedy at top speed

Originally published on September 28, 2008 | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel | written by Dave Tianen

As he readily acknowledges, Robin Williams has done a lot of drugs, but I'm pretty sure he's never done speed. If Robin Williams were on speed, I'm pretty sure you couldn't see him with the naked eye.

Williams was at the Milwaukee Theater Sunday night for a sold-out show, and even at 57, he is still a kind of kinetic eruption, a nonstop verbal and physical explosion that keeps bursting before your eyes like an hour and 45 minute Chinese firecracker of comedic brilliance. After all these years, it may still be the most intense comedic anarchy you can buy a ticket for.

Just the sheer bouncing-off-the-walls originality of it is stunning. There was a bit on what would happen if your car's GPS system took drugs. There was an extended telephone dialogue between the Devil, Osama bin Laden, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. Williams took us back to the dawn of creation to examine the process and logic behind the design of the human sexual apparatus. The Obama/McCain contest was likened to the Fresh Prince vs. Fred Mertz. There was a meteorological argument that if we really want to facilitate evacuations we should name hurricanes after Hitler. People wouldn't hang around for Hurricane Hitler. There was a play-by-play re-enactment of Dock Ellis throwing a no-hitter on LSD. There was even a pretty accurate impersonation of the act of birth.

As you can imagine, this is not exactly G-rated territory. Political correctness gets shredded into a fine dust. The language, the subject matter and occasionally even the execution were hard R. But if you had even the slightest curiosity about what John Wayne and Walter Brennan might have been like in "Brokeback Mountain," the Milwaukee Theater was the place to find out.

With Williams, the comedy keeps blasting at high velocity from different angles. There are impersonations, running multi-character dialogues, ethnic accents and just flat-out terrific writing. A few examples:

On Sunday in Milwaukee: "So the Brewers are in the playoffs... Even Nostradamus is going, 'Who knew?'... To be honest, I don't know (expletive) about baseball. It's like asking Elton John about ultimate fighting."

On the contrast between Cheney and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin: "The difference between her and Cheney is that if she shot you, you'd stay down... And then she'd field dress you."

On California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: "He's a liberal Republican. It's like a Volvo with a gun rack."

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