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 star of stage and screen will regale a Kingsbury Hall audience Jan. 16 in an unusual show that is billed as more of a warts-and-all conversation than a performance.
But even a plain conversation with the manic Williams is an adventure.
“There are moments of stand-up amid the sit-down,” said the Academy Award-winning star of TV shows such as “Mork & Mindy” and films “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Good Will Hunting,””Insomnia,” “The Birdcage,” Good Morning, Vietnam,” and “Aladdin.”
Joining Williams onstage will be William’s long-time friend David Steinberg, a Canadian comic, actor and writer who appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” more than 130 times — second only to Bob Hope— and frequent director of “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “Mad About You,” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” He is also infamous for being credited for being the last straw why “The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour”was canceled after he performed a sermon about Moses and the Burning Bush. (He said, “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 to develop material for another stand-up special, following his successful 2009 tour “Weapons of Self Destruction.” “Between the time you’re getting ready for the next stand-up [special], [this] keeps your comedy chops sharp,” he said.
So he and Steinberg, who hosts the interview program “Inside Comedy” on Showtime network, will use their improvisational skills to talk back-and-forth about whatever strikes their fancy on that particular night, whether it is 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.
“It changes every night,” Williams said. “The conversation is different every night.”
While older fans might be more familiar with Steinberg than younger fans, Williams said Steinberg will receive as much attention and time to talk as Williams. “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 was, “What, was Amish country booked?”
An Evening of Sit Down with Robin Williams
With • 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 by calling 801-581-7100 or online at kingsburyhall.utah.edu