Robin Williams works it out in Sacramento

Most famous comedians, when they want to work out their new material before a big tour, will make a clandestine appearance at a local comedy club or do an unannounced ‘guest set’ at a comedy showcase. Not if you are Robin Williams.

Williams took over Sacramento’s Crest Theater last night and shared his workout with 950 loyal fans, who paid $50 each to watch the comedy great perfect his “Weapons of Self-Destruction” material before debuting his tour in Australia and New Zealand on November 4. William’s proceeds were donated to the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Service.

Greeted with the first of three standing ovations as he walked onto the stage, Williams quipped, "Getting a standing ovation before I start is like having an orgasm before sex." Thus opened an hour and 45-minute, nonstop set of political, sexual and drug-related humor that was short on vulgarity and extra long on Williams' own brand of manic, rapid-fire delivery, enhanced by the fact that wearing a wireless lapel mic allowed him to use his entire body to create his stories and characters.

Pacing the large stage and downing multiple bottles of water, Williams created an intimate setting with the audience. Throughout the show, one was aware that this was a unique and almost surreal setting. This was a show performed on HBO, in stadiums and auditoriums throughout the country to sold-out crowds, and we were sitting not 100 feet away, watching this master craftsman work his magic. The laughter was continual and genuine throughout the night.

The only indications that this was a workout were some new jokes about Sacramento, some Aussie references and occasionally commenting on a joke as "too soon" or "not yet." Until Williams focused attention on them, you hardly noticed the four writers sitting next to the stage, gauging audience reactions.

Thank you Robin for bringing your act here. It was obvious that you got to spend your Sunday night with 950 of your most loyal fans. Come back soon!!

Steven Bloom is the founder/publisher of AmericasComedy.Com, (formerly SacramentoComedy.Com), the official guide to the Sacramento comedy scene. This website is dedicated to comedian interviews, comedian biographies and videos, and consolidation all of the Sacramento comedy events into a single comedy calendar for your convenience. You can send your questions directly to The Comedy Guy at Steven@AmericasComedy.Com.

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October 18, 2010 | 7:39 PM

Four writers guaging audience reaction? He doesn’t write his own material anymore?

October 18, 2010 | 10:40 PM

I’m sure most BIG comedians – and what other comedian is a bigger star, really? – work with writers all the time. Very cool to know they were there. Makes perfect sense. Nice review Steve!

October 18, 2010 | 11:12 PM

I guess that makes sense, I’d never really thought about it.

October 19, 2010 | 11:11 AM

Thanks for your input Lindol and David. I obviously fell short in reporting the “poetry in motion” that was Williams’ one hour and 45 minute performance. It was more of a “dress rehearsal” than a “workout” and it was executed near perfectly. The quantity and quality of the material shows that it was crafted under Williams’ tutelage but with professional fine-tuning.

Those that attended Conan O’Brien’s “Legally Prohibited From Being Funny On Television Tour” at Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in May, were privy to the perfect blending of a comedic genius with the support of a slew of writers (who Conan openly promotes and acknowledges for their brilliance)

There is a huge difference between a comedy club headliner and an arena filling comedy performance. Those of us who attended were able to not only enjoy the spectacular performance, but also feel the exchange of love and admiration between the audience and a comedic superstar in a very intimate setting.

No matter who wrote the jokes.. it was pure Robin Williams.

Article Author
October 19, 2010 | 12:17 PM

I respect Robin Williams even more for helping donate his proceeds to the Food Bank. I wish him well in all his endeavors. I know in the past he has had his personal struggles with addiction but he is doing fine now. ~ ~

October 19, 2010 | 3:34 PM

I was right there, second row, on the left side (fortunately that’s where he spent a lot of his time) so it was a great experience and I enjoyed it immensely. Even if I will be eating Ramen for the remainder of the month. I just wished I’d had a chance to have him meet my bf who has been a fan of his since he was 6. And greatly admires and feels a kinship with him.

October 21, 2010 | 10:01 AM

Thanks for your comments Paul. I was seated right behind you! I was told quite early that Williams was not granting any press interviews and even pulling as many strings as I could, I still didn’t get backstage. I would have been happy just to shake his hand.

Article Author
October 21, 2010 | 7:55 PM

Same here. You may have seen my Bf get up and leave. He was so anxious at seeing his idol perform in person he was having an anxiety attack. His hands were cold to the touch and he was getting light headed. So I’m not sure if it would’ve been good if he had met him that night. :)

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