If you’re old enough to remember the cocaine-fueled insanity of Robin Williams’ early stand-up, this is for you
by Seth Kubersky
I had to do a double-take when Roger Kabler first bounded on stage, since his physical resemblance to the late comedy legend Robin Williams goes far beyond his signature rainbow suspenders.
Kabler does a remarkable job recreating Williams’ hysterical one-liners and irrepressible vocal explosions, although his frequent breathlessness proves that Williams’ manic energy is inimitable without chemical assistance.
Dated cultural references to Tonya Harding and Buddy Hackett (along with some crudely misogynistic material that feels out of step with what I remember of Williams’ character) may make the show less accessible for younger audiences, but moments with beloved characters like Aladdin’s Genie and Mrs. Doubtfire should reel them back in.
What elevates this above a mere impression is the mid-show moment where Kabler drops the shtick to share how Williams’ life and death impacted him as a recovering addict; I was left wanting to learn more, which can be found in Being Robin, the documentary Kabler produced.
The structure does get a bit scattershot toward the end, with an overlong series of overacting celebrities, but the pacing recovers during a funny physical comedy finale.
For those old enough to remember the cocaine-fueled insanity of Robin Williams’ early stand-up comedy specials — and all those too young to have personally witnessed his protean talents — Kabler’s Ultimate Robin Williams Tribute may be the next best thing to time-traveling back to the Met circa 1986.