on 13 March 2011
Actually thought I was buying the DVD of this classic performance, at the Met, for a very low price, but it was a CD. It is hilarious in certain places, but I feel you really need to see Williams to fully enjoy his comedy, as so much of it depends on his actions and facial expressions. But this is still worth owning, even if it's just to chuckle at during a long car journey, or something like that. Very rude in places, this is certainly not suitable for minors.
on 3 July 2015
I fell in love with this recording when first at university, in the 1980s. As Williams rose to ever greater recognition on screen, and his presence became kind of flattened into paradoxically bland 'celebrity', it became (I thought, anyway) important to remember this man's foundation of sheer talent and commitment. This recording sees him an already mature performer, unafraid to use his own experiences of frailty and misjudgment to power his performance.
The performance itself therefore hasn't really aged at all, even if some of the references are to people like Idi Amin, or Ronald Reagan asking, 'What would this country be, without this great land of ours?' Williams's point is not this particular president (whom he still enacts as lovable and well-meaning, if perhaps buffoonish). Williams's underlying target is a political system and an electorate that can install such a character as supreme commander (the same culture that can so blithely assume that Disneyland is automatically a child's utopia, when more meaningfully it is a frenzied domain of a six-foot rat). With his quick-fire voice skills, the scenario degenerates into a chaotic debate at the Old Actors' Home between Reagan, John Wayne and Bela Lugosi, with Laurel and Hardy chipping in and James Stewart demanding attention. In desperation, Reagan morphs into Obi Ron Kenobi, 'Nancy has two danishes strapped to her head, saying "Help me, Obi Ron"', and Kissinger is really Yoda, while Nixon reappears as yet another reincarnation of Jason, this time really out for blood.
This stuff clatters us helplessly through Williams's real points, such as partial nuclear disarmament being a lot like partial circumcision, or South Africa's President Botha being just a little bit unrealistic as to the numbers that might make apartheid sustainable.
Religion, sexuality (homo or hetero), economics, blinkered politicians, evolution, drugs, childhood and (we wish) maturity... As was already firmly coming through in Williams's burgeoning acting career, his material was always centred upon love, compassion and community. He never makes a joke that is not at some level at his own expense: the thing most universally to be guarded against is human frailty, and its consequent delusions of competence and significance; and even (alleged) female hormonal craziness is presented most importantly as a natural force that NO facade of manly self-importance can withstand.
Who's the tight end? Fabulous. You stay right there: I love you.
I'm not talkin' Poussy-Foussy. I'm talkin' a FINE white wine, like Mad Dog Twenty-Twenty.
Really? I took a dump in your tuba? I'm FINE now! I'm a REFORMED alcoholic!
Yes, the Columbian dancing dust. We're talking about cocaine -- mmm, what a wonderful drug! Anything that makes you paranoid and impotent... mmm!! Gimme more of that!!! Isn't it nice, you can do a drug that'll make you talk to people you normally wouldn't talk to, and talk about silly things you would never even say in daylight.
Mr Phallus, on the night of the 15th, what do you remember?
Well... It was light, it was dark, it was light, it was dark, it was light, it was dark...
[Manly voice, interviewing a marathon runner] How ya doin?
[strangled voice] I just ran 26 miiiles...
How d'ya feel?
I'm aliiive! I'm covered in my own s***, but I'm aliiive!!!
Damn, I'm so sorry that Williams felt he had to go. This recording remains a wonderful monument to his heart and principles. And all of his frantic, high-energy verbal contortions come down at last the most touchingly simple and honest end that I have ever heard to a stand-up show.
Very much missed.
on 2 June 2005
I have had this CD for years, since seeing the stand up show on TV, and it is still a sure way to brighten up my morning commute. I've also lent it to friends (some too young to remember Ronald Reagan and Colonel Ghadaffi) and they all loved it too. Very funny with some jokes that will always be topical about drinking, drugs, sex and fatherhood - highly recommended!!