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Paul Wellman

Robin Williams at the Arlington

Comic Genius Does Stand Up


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Last week, Robin Williams walked onto the Arlington stage to a standing ovation and then proceeded to crack up the sold-out audience for two hours. Clad in a black short-sleeved button shirt and black pants, the iconic comedian kicked off his show with verbal noogies directed at our seaside burg. “It’s nice to be inside the Alamo,” he said, then rattled off one joke after another about S.B.“We have affordable housing,” he said, pretending to be an upper crust resident. “It’s in Oxnard.” Williams garnered huge laughs as he continued poking fun at the audience. Regarding the tough economic times, he mimicked a distraught local homeowner coming to terms with having to cut back to just two gardeners. As for how quiet the town is, Williams chalked it up to our top-heavy number of seniors, saying, “Shhh, you’ll wake the old people.”

Some of the funniest moments of the evening came when Williams turned his attention to politics. “I’m gonna miss W.,” he said. “He was a gift to comedy.” References to the former president’s lack of verbal skills got hoots and hollers from the house (“What will he do now? He can’t go on a speaking tour, that’s a given.”). Of the recent presidential debates between Barack Obama and John McCain, Williams compared it to a showdown between the Fresh Prince and Uncle Fester. As for Sarah Palin, he surmised she won the Republican vice president ticket on the political equivalent to the TV show “Project Runway”-Project Runningmate.

Other topics in the comedian’s arsenal included Olympian Michael Phelps’s recent pot bust (“Anyone who consumes more than 10,000 calories a day is definitely smoking marijuana.”), global warming (“It snowed in Vegas. Hell has frozen over.”), O.J. Simpson, Michael Jackson, crackberries, drugs (“I went to rehab in wine country just to keep my options open.”), and sex.

More than merely a joke teller, the Juilliard-trained actor raises his clever and original observations to comic genius with his use of accents (Scottish, pygmy, Indian, Russian, French, German, and Irish made repeated appearances throughout the evening) and masterful performing skills. With his sharp intellect and a rapier wit that comes to him as easily as breathing, it’s no wonder Williams has remained one of the most revered comedians for the past 30 years-a fact no one attending last Wednesday’s show would dispute.

Billy Collins & Aimee Mann

Presented by UCSB Arts & Lectures, Former U.S. Poet Laureate ... Read More