Review: Robin Williams and His Talking Rectum

Twas quite a night for Hill Auditorium when Robin Williams and his raunchy brand of comedy came to town this past Friday.  Having waited since March (after Williams postponed most of his tour in order to have and recover from open-heart surgery) with expensive tickets in hand, the Hill Auditorium crowd was edging to laugh and laugh hard.  A sold-out crowd welcomed Williams, and the two jumbo screens streaming live video of his antics all night, with a long and loud ovation.

Early on, Williams showed he had done his homework.  While many comedians have an established nightly routine, Willliams spent his first 20 minutes clowning on local issues.  Among other topics, he commented on Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan football team (“Coach Rodriguez is having extra practice sessions – not that they’re really helping right now”), Detroit (Canada’s “neighbor with a meth lab”), as well as noting that  “Kwame Kilpatrick makes Marion Berry look like Nelson Mandela”.  This local flavor won the crowd over immediately.

From there, Williams physicality and character humor took center stage.  As we know from his many roles in film, Williams truly becomes his characters.  In his 90-minute set, he became celebrities (Gregory Peck reciting porno lines, Arnold Schwarzenegger failing to pronounce “California”, former MLB pitcher Dock Ellis who pitched a no-hitter on LSD, Joe Biden campaigning for “Barack America”, Walter Kronkite telling a sexual joke- to name a few), animals (Scottish raccoons protesting recycling, a cat antagonizing a dog, and more), and he was, often times, himself- speaking about his heart surgery, his alcoholism, his movies, and his family.

Unfortunately, Williams’s material lost its edge in the second half of the show.  Gone were the local references or the riffs on current events.  Instead, Williams took turns with “Fuck”, “Asshole” (usually referring to his actual ass hole), and “Rectum” to pull laughter from his audience.  His especially vulgar set- a slightly uncomfortable scene for this 19 year old surrounded by the 50+’ers that could afford the tickets- relied upon material that, although consistently drawing a strong response, is no longer fresh.  Along with his talking rectum, Williams continued to mock the already most-ridiculed person of the decade, former President George W. Bush, as well as prolonged rants on the 2008 presidential campaign and Sarah Palin, along with many other not-so-current events.  Yes, Williams has not toured since 2003 so this is perhaps new material for him, but, in the meantime, the rest of the stand-up world, not to mention Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have squeezed this material dry.

Williams left Hill Auditorium to a standing ovation and a pleased crowd.  He made funny faces, did impeccable impersonations, and shocked the crowd with his slew of obscenities and innuendos.  However, despite his early success in commentary on local issues, Williams’s material failed to showcase his status as a master of modern culture.

Bennett Stein.  Ann Arbor, MI. No Shirt, No Radio-Wednesdays @ Midnight-1:30am.  WCBN.

PREVIEW: Robin Williams’s New Aortic Valve

First off, an introduction is in order- My name is Bennett Stein.  I’m a second year undergraduate student from Ann Arbor.  I’ll be writing on this here blog with some type of regularity.  I do encourage you to comment on the posts (“Oh man, Bennett, you’re so full of it.” or “Oh man, Bennett, you’re so god damn handsome” or “Meh, Bennett, you’re pretty so-so”), or, in addition, feel free to email me at  Finally, tune in to No Shirt, No Radio every Wednesday night from midnight-1:30am on WCBN (88.3 or live stream) where I will continue to spin the funky and the weird every week.

However, the real deal is that Robin Williams is finally performing at Hill Auditorium this Friday night, October 30.  Scheduled to perform here on March 28, Williams was out of commission for the past six months after a surgery to replace his aortic valve, repair his mitral valve, and correct his irregular heartbeat. 

We know Robin Williams mostly from his extensive cinematic career that includes an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in Good Will Hunting- one of his least funny roles- as well as outstanding performances in classics such as Good Morning Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and many others.  But, he has also found great success as a stand up comedian.  In 2004, Comedy Central named him 13th on the list of “100 Greatest Stand Up Comedians of All Time”.

Williams is back- he grew up in the Detroit burbs – and healthy and should rock a packed Hill Auditorium.  Ticket prices are steep but there’s no better working comedian out there these days (broken link, updated!).  Find a cracked window-get into Hill this Friday evening.

Robin Williams Stand Up

Bennett.  Ann Arbor, MI.

No Shirt, No Radio, Wednesday night 12-1:30am, WCBN (88.3 or

REVIEW: In A Sea of Shadows, Wilco Floats

Wilco As of Late
Wilco As of Late

Everything was setting up for the perfect enjoyment of a crisp October night.  It was fall break, I had no worries (albeit momentarily), and I was about to see one of my favorite bands perform live.  After a very booked week, I had almost forgotten about the Halloween treat I had been waiting for since school started and if it wasn’t for some minor obstacles, it would have been a nearly perfect night.

I guess I can be grateful that after an hour of searching for my hidden tickets in a sea of papers, I found them.  And I guess I could also be grateful that despite being eons away from the galactic center of Hill Auditorium, it still felt as if I was floating peacefully above the action.  And yet even more, I must be grateful that although I haphazardly forgot my glasses, the miniscule blurs down below swirled to create a larger, more pleasing image.  Most of all, I am grateful for my courage to “not wilco” in a move of utter defiance at a most crucial moment (read more to find out why).

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