Robin Williams was asked if he enjoyed talking about certain things in his life. “You mean before rehab?” he replied quickly, half-joking.
The 61-year-old comedian and actor will regale a Kingsbury Hall audience Jan. 16 in an unusual show that’s being billed as more of a warts-and-all conversation than a performance.
But even a plain conversation with the manic Williams turns into an adventure. “There are moments of stand-up amid the sit-down,” said Williams, the star of the TV show “Mork & Mindy,” and films such as “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Good Will Hunting,” “Insomnia,” “The Birdcage,” Good Morning, Vietnam,” and “Aladdin.”
Williams is a comedy legend, says Keith Stubbs, a local comic and radio morning host who owns the local Wiseguys comedy clubs. “Improvisationally, he’s superb and fearless, and I love him as an actor.”
Joining Williams onstage will be his longtime friend David Steinberg, a Canadian comic and actor who appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” more than 130 times — second only to Bob Hope. Steinberg is also a frequent director of TV shows such as “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “Mad About You,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
He’s also infamous for being credited as the last straw to why “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour” was canceled in 1969 after he performed a sermon about Moses and the Burning Bush. (His joke: “The Old Testament scholars say that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. The Gentiles, the New Testament scholars say, ‘Hold it, Jews, no.’ They literally grabbed the Jews by the Old Testament.”)
The idea for this national tour came when Williams wanted keep his “comedy chops sharp” and develop material for another stand-up special, following his successful 2009 tour “Weapons of Self Destruction.”
So he and Steinberg, who hosts the interview program “Inside Comedy” on Showtime, will draw upon their improvisational skills to talk about whatever strikes their fancy on a particular night, ranging from behind-the-scenes tales from film and TV, their personal lives, the world of stand-up, and, possibly, even uncomfortable periods in each other’s lives, like rehab. “The conversation is different every night,” Williams said.
He added Steinberg will receive an equal amount of talk time. “I’m just as curious about David as he is about me,” Williams said. “He has so many amazing stories ... When [the audience] starts hearing him, he’s kick-ass funny.”
Williams said he would be kinder about Utah than he was in his 2002 stand-up special “Robin Williams LIVE on Broadway,” in which he riffed on Utah being the host of the Winter Olympics.
One of his funnier lines: “What, was Amish country booked?”
Sitting down with Robin Williams
The comedian/actor will appear in a conversation with comedian/director David Steinberg.
When • Wednesday, Jan. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Where • Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City.
Tickets • $80 and $150, at 801-581-7100 or kingsburyhall.utah.edu.