There are few stand-up comedians as explosive and all-out hilarious as Robin Williams, one reason why the postponement of his original Hard Rock date due to emergency heart surgery a couple of months was such a major disappointment. Fortunately, Williams' triumphant return this past Wednesday night proved to the faithful that the wait was well worth it. After being introduced facetiously as "Damon Wayans," Williams proved as effusive as ever, riffing not only on his own recent surgery (who knew, for example, that Viagra was part of the procedure?), offering as well timely commentary on our obsession with Twittering, the recent competition for the Olympics ("We sent them Barack and Michelle, the Brazilians sent fifty hookers and a pound of blow!"), the healthcare debate, the present and past administrations, Mother Nature (She's bi-polar--how else to explain the dramatic shifts in weather and climate?), and a fair amount of local references to boot, from Governor Charlie Crist's consistent tan ("He's darker than Obama!") to the well endowed attributes of the South Beach crowd.
Sprinkling his rambling, nearly hour and a half monologue with a liberal dose of F-bombs, Williams transitioned from one topic to another with an ease and aplomb that would be a remarkable task for anyone other than Williams. In fact, a glib and speedy delivery has always been Williams' stock in trade and trying to keep up is an exercise in breathless anticipation. Blink and you miss a punch line. Williams had the audience cracking up continually throughout the performance, with silence taking over for only the briefest millisecond when Williams took the occasional sip of water.
Truth be told, though, Williams' arsenal of water bottles served more as props than actual sources of refreshment. A commentary about the original designing of humans' sexual anatomy rendered towards the end of his set proved one of the most uproarious portions of the program, and certainly as hilarious as anything in Williams' repertoire. While most of the verbiage isn't appropriate for retracing here, suffice it to say, he nailed every reference with laugh-aloud insight, as the audience's reaction readily attested. Even at age 58, Williams isn't shy about noting the absurdities and occasional frustrations that mark the path towards intimacy and indulgence.
It's worth noting, too, that aside from a fleeting "Na Noo Na Noo" prompt from an audience member, there were no Mork and Mindy references and only a glancing nod towards his lengthy list of film credits. However, Williams' skills as an impressionist--always a strong suit--had opportunity to be indulged with full flourish, thanks to cameo bits referencing Jack Nicholson, Walter Cronkite, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, James Brown, Walter Brennan and, in one particularly inspired set-up, Christopher Walken.
Williams relies less on improvisation and obvious spontaneity these days, and save some teasing directed at various audience members whose late arrival was especially auspicious due to their front row seating, his set seems to be well rehearsed and orchestrated accordingly. It would be interesting to see both the Wednesday and Thursday night performances to discern differences and discrepancies. Ultimately though, one night alone of Wiliams' repartee is a treat of epic proportions.