Review (2) for Birmingham, AL

Performed on October 10, 2009 | BJCC Concert Hall

Robin Williams a class act in Birmingham appearance

Originally published on October 10, 2009 | Birmingham News | written by Alec Harvey

Robin Williams is a class act.

First of all, he made good on a date he had to cancel earlier this year, much to the delight of a crowd that packed the BJCC Concert Hall Saturday night.

Secondly, he started on time, right at 8 p.m., and stayed on stage for nearly two hours performing his "Weapons of Self Destruction" act, soon to be an HBO special and to have a New York run.

Most importantly, though, is that he knew where he was. None of these "Thank you, Birmingham!" or "Gee, it's great to be down South" passing references. What separates Williams from the rest of the comic pack is that he did 10 minutes of Birmingham-specific jokes. From Larry Langford to the Allman Brothers concert next door at the arena to U.S. 280 to Mountain Brook to Alabama's win over Ole Miss to our musical heritage ("In Birmingham, there's a 1 in 11 chance you'll be in a car accident and a 1 in 10 chance you'll win 'American Idol'"), Williams had obviously done his homework.

Even the more scripted parts of the night had an improvisational feel to it, which is part of Williams' genius. He seems free-form and free-wheeling even when he's telling the same set of jokes you'll see when he's on HBO.

Dressed in black with two large screens behind him that often showed reactions from the audience, Williams showed no signs of being hindered by the recent open-heart surgery that caused him to postpone performances in Birmingham and elsewhere. He bounded across the stage and never really took a breather, only some swigs from bottled water now and then.

His humor was as topical as ever, covering healthcare reform, Twitter, Michael Jackson's death and his own surgery, among many other things.

Rarely overtly political, Williams did poke fun at Sarah Palin, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, but also told jokes about the Obamas, the Clintons and the Kennedys.

His language was raw, and many of his topics adult, but Williams, like his years on "Mork and Mindy," still has a childlike quality about him. He's often goofy and sometimes childish, but always extremely funny.

He even did an encore, coming out after a standing ovation to tell one more joke, perhaps his bawdiest one all night.

But it was as much a tribute to his good friend Walter Cronkite as it was an opportunity to make the audience laugh one more time.

Very classy indeed.

Williams lets it all hang out; comedian leaves nothing sacred

Originally published on October 12, 2009 | UAB Kaleidoscope | written by Alyssa Mitchell

Fans packed the Birmingham Jefferson County Concert Hall Saturday night to hear comedian Robin Williams take on subjects ranging from Larry Langford and Bear Bryant to Twitter and his recent heart operation.

His rescheduled "Weapons of Self Destruction" performance opened like a hail of machine gun fire into a thundering wall of laughter.

Williams is a comedian who clearly keeps up with the news, or at least has someone to do it for him, spending over 10 minutes on freshly funny material about the Magic City.

"I saw your mayor wants to host the 2020 Olympics. Never mind that Chicago just lost the bid, but it'll be 2020 so he just might get out of prison by then," Williams said.

At no point did the crowd stop laughing during the two gut busting hours including asking the audience if Bear Bryant would be made a saint if a section of the Vatican was dedicated to football and leaving the field wide open to make a few passes at Catholics.

"The cardinals go into a small, dark room to pick the next Pope and smoke comes out the top. I want in on that! And you know they were in there saying 'Oh this will be good... so the last Pope was Polish so let's make this one a Nazi,'" Williams said.

The man delivered all the goods with his ideas of methane powered cars ("give me a bean burrito and stick a tube in me") and Scottish-accented GPS devices ("you f***ing missed the turn you idiot").

He opened up about his newfound emotional side after his recent heart surgery and how strong the drugs were remarking "my doctor is my dealer."

Using the age card may seem cliche, but Williams plays it with such panache the audience nearly died laughing as he described trying to coax his three kids to stop Twittering long enough to talk to him.

It goes without saying Williams presented a fair share of sex jokes including human reproductive organs designed by committee leaving the wholesome family comedy at the door.

While watching Williams in action on the silver screen may be pure unadulterated fun it is better to see him spring across the stage live like a hyperactive six-year-old on a sugar high.

The physical routines hearken back to his days in San Francisco when he worked as a mime and later as the out-of-this-world Mork from Ork.

Williams closed the show with a tribute to famed anchorman Walter Cronkite saying that the CBS broadcaster always appreciated a good dirty joke.

Williams appeared at the BJCC as part of the rescheduled 2009 tour due to cancellations for open heart surgery. He receives 4.5 out of five stars for the ceaseless creative bombardment that explodes like unholy hand grenades.

Not bad for a guy who was voted "Least Likely to Succeed."

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