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Legendary comic Carlin comes back to the Beacon theater to angrily rant about airport security, germs, cigars, angels, children and parents, men, names, religion, god, advertising, Bill Jeff and minorities.
In this comedy special taped at DAR Constitution Hall, his first solo special on the network in seven years, Williams covers such topics as global warming, sex and politics, the state of health care in the country (suggesting a cash for clunkers program for elderly relatives, among other things), drugs - recreational and otherwise - and more personal topics, including his recent heart surgery. Written by
Some of the material is not great but even then his energy and delivery carries it
I recently managed to catch Robin Williams' big return to HBO and I was looking forward to some typical manic humour from him, which is pretty much what he delivers. The problem is that he still needs good material to deliver in this way and there are substantial chunks of this special when the material is not as strong as he should be doing. He dabbles into political comedy but he does so in a manner that makes him come over like he is trying to do someone else's act it just doesn't sit well with the rest of the stuff he is doing. Put with this the fact that a lot of the material he is doing is not topical I know I saw this several months after it aired in the US but even in December 2009 some of this stuff was done and done. It is still pretty funny but it is not as hilarious as he is trying to make it, nor as funny as the audience reaction captured suggests.
Likewise some of his stuff is very crude and some of the laughs seem to be coming from the stuff he is saying being shocking. Of course this is nothing need in comedy and there is always a place for those who say the unsayable but do so in a very clever and well-delivered fashion but this is not happening here. Williams does have some great observations with this stuff but mostly he is playing it a bit too obvious and childish for my tastes. Fortunately neither the political stuff nor the crude stuff makes up the majority of the show. There are other things in here and some of them are relevant to him and personal to him; his bits on alcoholism and drugs I found very funny but also well informed and it is just a shame he could not have done more from that direction rather than miming out his bodily functions with as much regularity as he did (pun unintentional).
There is one thing above all else that makes this (admittedly too long) special work though, even as it dips at times and that is the man himself. Williams manic stuff has always worked well for me and since Mork has been his trademark and there is no sign that he has lost his touch there because his delivery and work is impressive. He nails the better material with this approach and he also carries the weaker stuff, taking the audience with him even when the joke he is doing is not that funny. The only slight wobble he has in that regard is when he does quite a lot of racial/national stereotypes and accents in one tight segment you can feel the audience not really being sure if it is something they should be laughing at, but by force of his personality alone Williams takes them with him right through that mire.
Is "Weapons" a great comedy show? Well to be honest no, too much of the material feels a little "base" in its content but Williams just about holds it together by sheer will and presence. He carries the audience and the viewer through the weaker material, moving quickly and frantically to distract us and provides plenty of good laughs on the stronger material to make us focus on that. Not quite great but he is undoubtedly good at what he does.
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