Author: Sean L. McCarthy

Robin Williams, “working on material”

Five years after he returned to stand-up comedy, Robin Williams appears to be attempting another return to the stage. At least, that’s what it looked like last night when Williams launched into his first of two sold-out last-minute performances at the Comedy Connection in Boston. The reasoning? Williams is the star attraction Friday at the Yankee Dental convention at Hynes Convention Center. The dentists are paying $100-$175 to see him there. On Saturday, people will pay $225-$275 to see Williams perform at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. No wonder, then, that the comic might want to brush up on his stand-up skills before having fans pay a pretty price just to hear him. They should get their money’s worth. Right? So what did Boston fans (who’ll see him again at 10 p.m. tonight) get for their $25 in the intimate Comedy Connection setting? For one thing, 98 minutes of pure Robin Williams (for better or worse, depending upon your viewpoint within the comedy community). The theme of his wildly scattered riffing? Everything old is new again. And everything new is up for ranting. Dressed simply in a black short-sleeve T-shirt (with monster skull face) and black jeans, he opened with about a half-hour of material that couldn’t have been more topical if he were a late-night TV talk-show host. "I’m here as part of ‘The...

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(Blank) in a box!

You have to hand it to Saturday Night Live. Every once in a while, they get it. Not just delivering laughs, but also understanding the need to let everyone in on the joke. Over the holidays, NBC’s longtime late-night institution proved that once again with the music video, "Dick in a Box," starring Justin Timberlake and SNL’er Andy Samberg. Like "Lazy Sunday" before it, the video has only gotten more popular online, inspiring millions more viewers and countless parodies. This time, however, NBC wised up and put the video on YouTube — along with many more SNL sketches — online for anyone to see, anytime, anyplace. One of the "Box" parodies/tributes getting buzz is "My Box in a Box." For good reason. This video has all of the essential qualities you need in a buzzworthy YouTube vid: Solid production values, a catchy soundtrack and an attractive woman who’s not afraid to give plenty of come hither poses. Nice job,...

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Harry Shearer: Novelist, blogger, Simpsons voice

Harry Shearer is a man of many voices, to be sure. And that’s just on The Simpsons, where Shearer voices the characters of Mr. Burns, Smithers, Ned Flanders, Principal Skinner, Kent Brockman, the Rev. Timothy Lovejoy, among others. You’ve heard him for years on Le Show, his weekly public radio program. Seen him on Saturday Night Live (that synchronized swimming sketch alone is legendary). With Christopher Guest and company, he’s been in both This Is Spinal Tap and A Mighty Wind, and now For Your Consideration. He even blogs, for crying out loud — he started the "Eat the Press" feature on the Huffington Post. And now he has delivered his first novel, the satirical "Not Enough Indians." I spoke with Shearer about the book and everything else. OK. That’s enough of a build-up. Let’s bring Shearer down a notch. First question: How come Le Show still isn’t on the air in Boston? Does it even matter, since you can listen to archived shows online? "I wish I knew," he said. "I guess it’s people calling ‘BUR, ‘GBH saying what the hell is wrong with you people. Like they say, you know Boston isn’t really a big college town." "I have the perception that not being on the air in New York City affects the perception of people in the media business as to what I do. People in...

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Katt Williams

Katt Williams is one n—– a roll. Wait. Hold on, hold on, just hold on one second. What’s with that "n-word"?! Oh, right. That. Avert your eyes now if you don’t want to know what it is, even though you know all too perfectly well what the word is, and as Louis CK will tell you, just saying n-word puts the actual word in your head. That word has been in the news and in comedy debates in the two weeks since Michael Richards (not Kramer) went off on a rage-filled rant at the Laugh Factory in L.A. And considering what’s happened since, with club owner Jamie Masada saying he’d ban and fine comics who utter the word, the Rev. Jesse Jackson calling for a boycott of the word in entertainment circles, and veteran comic Paul Mooney saying he’d stop saying the word that has made him so much, I just had to ask Katt Williams about it. Especially since his HBO special, Katt Williams, The Pimp Chronicles pt. 1 (now out on DVD), was, to quote Williams, the biggest hit "in the history of niggerdom." Suffice it to say, Williams isn’t afraid of Masada’s edict. "No, they shouldn’t have done that," he told me. "They were as wrong as (Michael Richards) was. As a comic, you’re allowed to say whatever. A comic can do 30 minutes on the...

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What happened to Comic Relief?

Almost forgot to weigh in on last weekend’s other talked-about comedy show, the ballyhooed return of Comic Relief. Broadcast live from Las Vegas and New Orleans on HBO (with a slight delay on TBS), the show looked and sounded all of its 20 years. Robin Williams had nothing new to offer. Whoopi Goldberg had even less. Billy Crystal gamely tried to keep a smile on his face. And the rest of the comics…snooze. Emeril "Fall River, Mass." Lagasse was introduced as "Mr. New Orleans." That’s funny not just because it’s literally wrong, but also because Emeril skipped out on the Big Easy in the weeks following Hurricane Katrina. But back to the night of no laughs. Sure, helping New Orleans is serious business, but the name of the show was Comic Relief, and none of the early stand-ups (Ray Romano, Rosie O’Donnell, Bill Maher) got the crowd going. When the actors from Desperate Housewives seem funny, the show needs saving. George Lopez fared OK with timely jokes about immigration. He was followed by Louie Anderson and Susie Essman, a lame bit with the Entourage boys, and eventually, 90 minutes in, D.L. Hughley arrived onstage prepared and raring to go into his stand-up routine. Dane Cook delivered appropriate laughs. Sarah Silverman did her thing, but by this point, it was all I could do to continue watching. If you’re going...

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