If you’ve been wondering what Robin Williams thinks of the state of the world today, wonder no longer. He spells it all out in funny detail on his new CD. While Live 2002 may not be Robin Williams at his early drug-induced, hyper-kinetic best, it is definitely a performance worth having. Perhaps not chock full of as many instantly laugh-’til-you-cry bits as some of his classic work, the humor really does have more depth and reach than before. He has aged, and his work has aged gracefully with him. Topics range from the weather to politics to the Olympics to terrorism, and that’s just in the first five minutes. He also covers a few more personal topics (aging and fatherhood), without losing a bit of the crudeness you expect from him. No one is safe from his skewer. Liberals and conservatives alike get roasted along with terrorists, pedophilic priests and every ethnicity imaginable. I wouldn’t say that there is something guaranteed to offend everyone, but it’s close. The material seems to get funnier as it grows on me. Unlike a lot of comedy albums that get stale quickly after you have heard the jokes, this one improves with each listen.
“Disc Two” contains snippets of performances from 18 different cities on his tour. Each track gives a little local flavor (food, politics, language, etc.) for those of us who missed our chance to see him live. These tracks are book-ended by “The Grim Rapper” wherein Williams raps (yes raps) about aging, and a nice little rant on one of his favorite current topics: “Technology.” While not a home-run on its own, “Disc Two” makes a fine bonus based on the relatively low price for this two-disc set.
Live 2002 isn’t perfect. Several of the bits are obviously visual, and thus something is lost in an audio-only format. Some of the bits are old stuff recycled again. If pressed to choose, I will say that Live at the Met is still my favorite Robin Williams performance. If you don’t own any Robin Williams material, that is the classic piece to seek out. However, if you are a fan of his work, or just need a good laugh, by all means pick up Live 2002.