After reading David Itzkoff's recent New York Times profile on Robin Williams, the comedian's latest HBO stand-up special, Weapons of Self-Destruction, came off as a bit of a letdown when it debuted last night. I wished Williams had left in more of the darker, personal material that Itzkoff saw on his tour.
Instead, after the first few minutes onstage at DAR Constitution Hall in D.C., in which Williams opened with topical material (Oprah "quitting" her talk-show) and crowd work with latecomers in the audience, he veered into well-worn joke territory. How well-worn? He told the joke about the difference between redneck divorce and tornados/hurricanes — "someone's losing a trailer!" — and then hacked on about the naming of hurricanes. About 15 minutes in, though, he did start talking about his personal life — he had open heart surgery earlier in the year (which, non-fun-fact, my mom experienced on Election Day 2008, never forget!) — and that seemed much more compelling. From an introductory joke about getting an angiogram — "Who knew the way to a man's heart was through his groin?" — into noting that he was taking the same medication that Michael Jackson had been taking for fun, you thought you were getting something more. Of course, then he told Clinton jokes (in a bit about someone just now waking up from a 10-year-long medication), and after some Sarah Palin jokes (I did like him saying, "How did they find her? Was it Project Running Mate?"), he went for Jack Nicholson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, and in that, he even does the now quite-old joke about wondering who will build his immigration wall. Then there's bits about methane cars, confusion over people talking on bluetooths, Twitter, video games and masturbation, Doc Ellis' LSD no-hitter (enhanced by HBO visual effects). About an hour into the 90-minute special, Williams becomes more uniquely interesting, but then he closes (as he is wont to do) with a routine about sexual organs. You've read my take on it. Now here's the buzz from Williams himself. Roll the clip!