By Stewie Sutherland
When I was a kid, I once found a record called Robin Williams: A Night At The Met. I had no idea that the Met was the New York Metropolitan Opera House, or know anything about cocaine, Ronald Reagan, or even a lot about alcohol – I did know that listening to Robin Williams say that beer commercials always showed “Manly men doing manly things! You’ve just killed a small animal – it’s time for a light beer!” sounded damned funny.
The entire performance was 40 minutes or so long – 20 minutes on each side (showing my age there, children) and I still heard more swearing on the playground at school, so I wasn’t too worried about all that – I guarantee I listened to it way more than the old Disney cassettes I had, with good reason! Who’d listen to Mickey Mouse preach about togetherness when they could listen to Williams sing Springsteen’s “Fire” in an Elmer Fudd voice? Now that I’m a grown adult aware of the world around him (and oh so opinionated), it’s nice to hear comedy about current topics, and few comedians are as raw, fast and funny as Williams. And at 58 years old he’s still going strong! If Leslie Nielsen made another Naked Gun movie I’d have a complete flashback to my childhood – I may even have to sit up in bed and laugh myself silly too.
Weapons of Self Destruction is the first stand up DVD since Williams’ Live on Broadway special several years ago. Since then, censorships have been reduced yet again, Michael Jackson has died, “Dubya” has left the White House, the economy has fallen, the Banks have fallen with it and we’ve had the invention of Twitter. These are only a few of the topics that get the treatment – the first thing you’ll hear is Sarah Palin’s book being hard to find. “I found it somewhere between Fiction and Non-Fiction in the Fantasy isle.”
I bought the case from Sanity for the bottom price of $25, complete with the DVD of the DAR Constitution Hall DC performance, a printed insert and an additional CD as well, so I was able to listen and have a laugh while I was driving home with it. An hour and a half later I had made it back home, having to stop halfway to grab lunch and eating it in the car so I didn’t have to take a break from hearing about Robin’s recent open heart surgery.
An angiogram is where they go through your groin to your heart, and who knew that the way to a man’s heart was through his groin, and many women are going “We’ve known that forever!”
The slip I mentioned earlier is something like a program you might’ve been able to buy by going to the performance, with a quick note about the cast and staff involved, as well as a letter written by the man himself, stating that he had performed the tour with 90 shows, in front of about 300,000 people, and how my entire purchase will soon be obsolete, to be replaced with direct cranial data downloads. (Listen to his performance – something I agree with is people who have Bluetooth phones should make the effort to reach up and yank them out of their ears when they leave the car).
The DVD also has a few very nice bonuses with it! The first is “Local Highlights” where it shows a few deviations from the main show that applied to the different cities he toured in. Albany, New York’s Mayor is tanned enough to be either an Obama impersonator or George Hamilton. Lo and behold! He was in one of the front rows himself! A few moments of saluting, laughing, swearing and “All I can see is teeth!” round it out nicely. This is ONE of the locations we get a preview of – thirteen to go.
My second and most favourite bonus was “Past Highlights”, taking star quality bits from 4 of his previous shows and slipping them on to fill up the disc. The previously mentioned Live on Broadway and An Evening At The Met are on there, as well as An Evening with Robin Williams and Off The Wall from 1978. Think about that – that, faithful readers, is 32 years of funny voices and lightning quick punch lines. Take a deep breath and enjoy, I mean it. You wont have much time to breath with your sides hurting from laughter.
“This would be a place for Stallone to do Hamlet! ‘To be, or what?’” – Williams on the Metropolitan Opera House, New York. An Evening at The Met. 1986
Let’s quickly review the main performance itself then, shall we? It’s an hour and a half long, with every current topic and feature in the news over the last few months fair game. He’s an older guy – he’s got a few gray hairs, some extra chins (or neck folds) and a new bovine heart valve. He still uses his hands like Stan from Monkey Island. I personally want to know how he breathes, because sometimes I just don’t see him take a pause to inhale! I want to shake hands with his lawyer, a very busy man indeed. Whenever I’m sore, I want his Doctor, who at the age of 58 is Williams’ dealer (and much harder to get a hold of). I just plain want to see this guy live so I can laugh myself silly with a group of strangers doing the same thing.
Weapons of Self Destruction comes with a sticker that, as I’ve grown older, I’ve grown to admire – MA15+. Strong sexual references and coarse language. It’s a bit of an understatement. He swears. A lot. Sometimes you get a comic who puts the ‘f’ word into every sentence, making it a pain to listen too. He may use it a bit much here, but it’s not too harsh on the hearing. I’m not too sure how to describe it – it’s playing in the background while I’ve been writing this article – as I’ve started this paragraph, he’s said it six times. Four of them have just been on the one joke about a Scottish GPS, but hell, the accent just balances it out. I’ve also heard a ton of other technology jokes in there too – I can’t stress enough how much of a mystery it is with regards to how this guy breathes.
I have a GPS in my car – I was driving across the Golden Gate Bridge, I was halfway across, and all of a sudden the car went ‘Take a right turn.’ ‘What? No can do HAL! Not that depressed, really.’ And the car went ‘Really Robin? I saw Bicentennial Man.’ ‘SHUT THE F*** UP!’
If you’re easily offended or very sensitive, turn away. In writing that one sentence, I’ve just heard a joke on Twittering during sex. (Is it rude to type OMG, OMG WTF?) If you’re open minded and can take it all (and I mean ALL) come on in. Nothing and no one is spared – the Clintons, the Obama’s, Cheney, Palin, Chinese Disneyland, Healthcare, technology and the design of the human body are just part of the performance. If you can stand all that and more without being too offended, stop reading this and go and get your copy…
9 OUT OF 10
I don’t know why I imagined these liner notes read with a Scottish accent, but I did, and it works.
– Robin Williams
Weapons Of Self Destruction (DVD) is due for release in the UK on the 12th of April 2010. You can pre-order it at Amazon.co.uk here.