Review for Orlando, FL

Performed on October 23, 2009 | UCF Arena

Robin Williams shines in UCF Arena gig

Originally published on October 23, 2009 | Orlando Sentinel | written by Nick Masuda

Orange Blossom Trail. Marcus Jordan. Men having sex with their dogs. UCF construction. Charlie Crist.
Thank you, Central Florida, Robin Williams is appreciative of the material.

Williams, who returned to Orlando on Friday night after having to cancel his initial comedy event earlier in the year because of open-heart surgery, showed no signs of illness as he delivered an energetic 90 minutes at UCF Arena.

Sporting a pair of black-and-orange Nikes, Williams opened the set by apologizing for wearing the shoes, but added the coach said it would be OK. He explained that he and Marcus Jordan (Michael's freshman, basketball-playing son at UCF) were the only ones allowed to forgo Adidas.

The San Francisco native mixed clever one-liners with elaborate jokes, including a bit about Florida's governor. He panned that Florida is the only state that elected a governor that was darker than Obama. This got the crowd rolling and even made Williams sport a wry smile.

It was refreshing to see a comedian who didn't stick to a script, but instead researched the area he was performing in so he could localize his material. He poked fun at late arrivers, including a man in the front row that came to show formally attired: Williams claimed that he was from Windermere and just came from court.

Relating to one's backyard is a great way to get a crowd on your side so that you can do what you want after that.

And nothing was off-limits. From health care to how the male and female reproductive systems were formed, Williams showed a tremendous knowledge of current events.

One of the best moments was a story that he told about former Major League Baseball pitcher Doc Ellis, who is said to have thrown a no-hitter while on the drug LSD. With two big screens behind Williams, the entire segment was depicted as a big acid trip to show how difficult throwing a ball would be, much less a no-hitter over nine innings. The creativity of the visual effects was outstanding.

The show spent a good deal of time talking about politicians, from Hillary and Bill Clinton to Kim Jong-Il. Williams put politics into his own perspective. He talked about how unimpressed European countries are with who we elect as president and that it would take electing Jack Nicholson before other nations may respect us. Williams said that Nicholson would help us avoid drug and sex scandals because he has done everything and had sex with everyone. The bit wasn't graphic, but so funny because it wasn't a reach to believe it.

Williams has been open about his struggles with alcoholism, and talked about his time in rehab. But, even that wasn't immune to comedy, stating that he went to rehab in wine country just to give himself an option. But he got his message out, talking about how drunks push people away until they are completely alone and the battle that it takes to get your life back.

That may be a battle that he has to wage on the homefront, but Friday night showed that he still owns the stage.

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