Review for Ottawa, ON (3)

Performed on November 19, 2008 | Scotiabank Place

Williams has Scotiabank Place crowd in stitches

Originally published on November 21, 2008 | Ottawa Citizen | written by Chris Cobb

Whoopi Goldberg once said that Robin Williams has a place in the hearts of audiences that 99 per cent of performers can only dream of reaching.

She meant that people are pre-disposed to love Williams as soon as he walks onstage and he would have to mess up big time for the love to dissipate--and even then he would probably be instantly forgiven.

To fully understand that magic you had to be in the audience at Scotiabank Place Wednesday night.

Watching Williams transform a cavernous hockey arena into an intimate comedy club for 10,500 people was remarkable.

Profane, sexually explicit, frenetic and bawdy though he was, there could have been few dry eyes or non-aching jaws in the house when he walked off 90 minutes later with one final crack at the expense of U2's Bono.

Williams' Weapons of Self Destruction tour, which continues into next year, is mostly being staged in real theatres, but it's unlikely that those experiences--Massey Hall in Toronto this weekend for instance--will feel any different than this arena show performed on a simple set featuring a small table crammed with bottled water.

Williams last toured six years ago and says he chose 2008-09 because it was his last chance to get his comedic licks in at George W. Bush. And he did.

Inevitably, Sarah Palin and her penchant for moose hunting weren't far behind. Nor was Vice-President Dick Cheney, Hillary and Bill Clinton and, of course, Barack Obama. The new president, Williams speculated, will be freaking out everyone on his inauguration day by revealing his real intentions and naming a bunch of high-profile rappers to his cabinet.

Williams' brilliance at impersonation, and his ability to use his body to complement his words, adds a dimension to his wacky observational dialogue that makes him irresistibly funny.

But let's begin at the beginning. He walked onstage to the strains of Jimi Hendrix and immediately launched into Ottawa and Canada. The local content was the weather, rapid transit and Rockcliffe (with the William F. Buckley intonation). And on the wider geo-political level was Stephen Harper (booooooring) and Quebec. Williams' supercilious Gauloises-smoking Frenchman is a regular, hilarious visitor to his routine. It's a simple caricature but one that captures the stereotype perfectly.

After Canada, the world was Williams' comedy oyster: Germans, Scots, the French (again and again) and the British Royal Family ("all that money and no dental plan").

So rapid-fire and seemingly disconnected is Williams' delivery that only with the aid of a few notes taken during the performance could anyone possibly remember any more than a snippet of what had them in tears for 90 minutes.

His topics included GPS systems, jabbering wearers of Bluetooth ear pieces, global warming, "CrackBerries," the Olympics, Starbucks, Osama bin Laden, popes, gays, Mormons, cats and dogs, cars running on human gasses (the new Ford Colon) and prescription drugs with side effects. ("My doctor's my new drug dealer except he's more difficult to get hold of.")

And many more fired too quickly to be recorded by the human hand.

Oh yes, alcoholism and rehab. After 20 years of sobriety, Williams plunged back into the abyss and checked himself into a rehab clinic in 2006--"in wine country to keep my options open."

And how God's designers screwed up when they were piecing together human sex organs. That kept him occupied and the audience in stitches with him for a good 10 minutes.

In Williams' mind, the topics must be linked--key phrases that give him the ability to go for 90 seamless minutes. He didn't stumble and stopped only for gulps of bottled water--two- or three-second breaks he uses to grease his throat and probably gather his thoughts.

After his short encore, people poured out into the cold, still chattering and chuckling about the show, still laughing and trying to remember a few of the lines that had made them laugh.

"My jaw's going to be aching for a week," one woman said to her companion as they walked toward their $17--insert your own rip-off joke here--parking spot.

The post-show buzz suggested that Williams' place in the hearts of at least 10,500 fans is quite secure.

Comedy Review: Robin Williams - Weapons of Self Destruction tour

Originally published on November 20, 2008 | BC Music | written by Michael Prince

They say things get better with age and having had the pleasure to attend the Ottawa, Canada portion of Robin Williams current tour--Weapons of Self Destruction--I know that statement is true.

I have been a long time Robin Williams fan and have CDs (and DVDs) of every major tour he has done; some of them are upgrades from VHS tapes and albums, you probably get the picture. While the topics, look, environment, and age has changed, there is one constant: Robin Williams is one of the funniest men alive.

One of the best things about Robin is his old school nature; he actually researched Canada and Ottawa specifically and the first 20 minutes of his show was local flavored. In light of the recent Canadian election, he was sure to mention that, unlike the United States, when we have elections nothing in the government changes. He proceeded to discuss our close proximity to Quebec and their separatist nature and how incredibly boring our Prime Minister is.

This opening segment really pulled the audience in and for the rest of the nearly two hours none of us stopped laughing. Nothing is safe from Robin’s sharp wit; he of course focused on Obama winning the recent election and wondered if he would surprise us all and get all gangster at the inauguration. Hillary and Bill Clinton, George W Bush, John McCain, Dick Cheney and especially Sarah Palin were speared, roasted and eaten on stage in Robin Williams’s classic style.

Moving with the times and his age Robin also focuses on technology, Viagra, prescribed drugs, and his experiences in the past. A few of his jokes were from previous sets, but he always added a new twist, a new dimension that made it even funnier then the past versions.

I was constantly amazed by his sheer energy and animation. Many comics are very static on stage but Robin puts his entire body and mind into his act and it is apparent. I don’t think I have ever seen (except for his previous shows) water used as such an effective prop when performing jokes.

I cannot recommend this current tour enough. Robin Williams is as funny as he has ever been; his comedy is fresh, timely and full of belly laughs. I will definitely pick up the DVD when it is eventually released and relive this great night. If you have the opportunity, do yourself a favor and catch one of his shows; you will not regret it.

The Robin Williams--Weapons of Self Destruction Tour is continuing across Canada and the United States for the next 4 months. Details can be found at his official site.

Robin Williams gets laughs

Originally published on November 20, 2008 | Sun Media | written by Shane Ross

Robin Williams packs some deadly one-liners on Weapons of Self-Destruction tour

OTTAWA--Code red, we need someone to make the stuffiest man in the world laugh.

That's what the organizers of Prince Charles' 60th birthday party last week must have been thinking. So they went to the best: Robin Williams.

The 10,500 people last night at Scotiabank Place were no doubt an easier crowd. Ottawa loves him--the show sold out in 52 minutes when tickets went on sale Sept. 11, the second-fastest sellout in the building's history after the Bruce Springsteen concert in 2003.

"I was just in London and you guys are different," he said after making ribs ache and jaws drop for nearly two hours.

Some of his jokes would've bombed over in Britain. For example, members of the royal family likely wouldn't have been heckled like the two women who showed up late last night.

As they squeezed down the aisle and into their seats near the front row, Williams stopped in his tracks and took aim.

"Hey look, there goes some real Canadian breasts," he blurted. "They're not like Las Vegas breasts, they move when you move."

And with that, the tone for the evening was set. A seamless segue into his favourite topic of the night.

And those other boobs, of course, politicians.

In fact, he said before his Weapons of Self Destruction tour that the fertile comedy ground of the U.S. election was one of the reasons he has returned to stand-up comedy after a six-year break. But it's more likely he did it simply because that's what he does best.

His funniest moments were when he was describing how our creators would have designed the male and female body parts. Nobody simulates sex, or giving birth, quite like Williams. He moves around the stage like he has ants in his pants, stopping only to drink from a water bottle (or use it as a prop).

The 57-year-old funnyman has won four Grammys for his comedy albums, including one from his last comedy tour in 2002. All of his shows on his current tour have sold out, and he's adding more shows every week.

He tailored the first 10 minutes of his show last night to the local crowd.

"You had an election and went with no change. Stephen Harper is so borrrrrrrring," he said to cheers.

And he compared Quebec with a rebellious teen who wants to say, "F-- you dad, I'm leaving, but I need the money so I'll stay."

Tonight, Williams returns to Montreal, where he recently spent time filming the sequel for Night at the Museum. He heads to Toronto for two shows tomorrow and Saturday.

Message to ticket-holders: Don't show up late.

Greatest hits

- It's so cold up here, even my (privates) want to stay in.

- Americans were going to boycott China and then we realized they made everything. All that would be left would be a guy with a Louisville Slugger drinking Jack Daniels on Harley Davidson chanting "U.S.A.!"

- (When I fart) I leak methane. I'm my own fuel source. I could run a tube from my (bottom) to my gas tank and drive across America. (Forget) green, go brown.

- When a man gets divorced, instead of alimony they should make him give up a body part. Larry King would just be a head on a stick.

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