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Case Number 14687: Small Claims Court

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Inside The Actors Studio: Robin Williams

Shout! Factory // 2008 // 104 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Christopher Kulik (Retired) // October 8th, 2008

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All Rise...

Judge Christopher Kulik thinks Robin Williams is insane(ly funny) in the membrane.

The Charge

The definition of legalized insanity.

The Case

A sticker on the DVD case claims this is the most requested episode of Inside the Actors Studio. I'd buy that, considering one of the world's funniest comedians erupts in full steam in front of a live audience while also answering some fascinating questions posed by moderator James Lipton. Evidently, Williams was on fire for pretty much the entire 2001 interview. Just in case you missed it—despite its endless repeats on the Bravo channel—then here is your chance to view Inside the Actors Studio: Robin Williams courtesy of the Shout! Factory.

For the uninitiated, Inside the Actors Studio has been on for almost 15 years. Its host is James Lipton, the dean emeritus of NYC's Actors Studio Drama School, and he's been treating his students to interviews with famous actors of the industry, many of them Academy Award winners. Lipton knew interviewing Williams was going to be a challenge, and indeed he had to wait nine minutes before asking his first question. Over the course of the next five hours, Williams would answer the questions…and usually follow them with hilarious riffs on wherever his mind took him. He would even include the audience, borrowing a girl's scarf at one point and then complimenting another for her wild laugh.

More often than not the interview would become a standup session. Not that the audience was complaining, as they were usually shown laughing (or smiling, at the very least). As for Lipton, he would seem to be waiting patiently for Williams to be finished on his mini-rant, almost always remaining professional, yet also highly amused by the act. In fact, Lipton mentions in his introduction that one of the audience members had to be taken to the hospital for (literally) busting a gut.

Those who want to learn much about Williams' youth and consequent career may come away a little disappointed. Yes, the actor does talk a bit about his times at Julliard, doing stand-up, and his breakout role as Mork from Ork. However, the history is merely glossed over before getting to questions about performance and acclaim. And, more often than not, answers would be compromised by yet another comic spasm full of crazy voices and insane innuendos. Still, Williams does include many recollections with his colleagues, particularly directors Terry Gilliam and Peter Weir.

As with all episodes of Inside the Actors Studio, Lipton's interview concludes with a standard questionnaire (asking favorite words, sounds, etc). I would be hard pressed to meet a person in real life whose favorite profanity is "pussy" (because it's so sweet) but least favorite word is "c*nt" (because it's so dirty); only Williams could admit to these and not really offend anyone. Finally, the show ends with some students asking the guest questions.

One of the advantages of watching Inside the Actors Studio on DVD is that you can see many moments originally cut so that Bravo could fit the program into a one-hour time slot. The Shout! Factory provides only ten, running a total of just over 25 minutes. Some of them turn quite dramatic, such as Williams' visit to his old college chum Christopher Reeve mere days after his equestrian accident, back when there was a heated debate on whether he should be "unplugged" or not. Others go back to a more riotous route, with Williams going off about such sundry topics as Viagra and necrophilia. As for tech specs, the episode is presented in full frame with audio in DD 2.0 Stereo and no subtitles.

For the most part, I enjoyed watching this and laughed more often than not. Yet, it really bothers me that the full, five-hour interview cannot be released in its complete, uncensored glory. Anyone who has seen Robin Williams Live On Broadway could jointly contest that the comic is hardly the same when smacked with a bunch of bleeps. Seriously, I understand when watching this on TV, but why the same treatment on DVD? I'm not exactly sure if the Shout! Factory is to blame for this, but it's a perfectly legitimate question. Otherwise, they are found not guilty, while Williams is free to go.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 89

Perp Profile

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• None
Running Time: 104 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Performance
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Additional Footage


• IMDb
• Inside the Actors Studio

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