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Zach Galifianakis and Robin Williams are HBO's funny guys - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 31st 2009 11:53AM
Robin Williams and Zach GalifianakisI wanted to write about this panel last night. However, the cumulative effects of my afternoon sojourn to In-n-Out Burger to have a double-double and fries, both "animal style," and the evening Food Network party that included a roasted pig, gourmet grilled cheese and other chef-created delicacies, caused me to collapse into a food coma at around 11 PM.

But l couldn't let two of HBO's panels go without comment. One was for the new comedy Bored to Death, based on the writings of Jonathan Ames. Joining Ames on the panel were Jason Schwartzman (via satellite), Ted Danson, and the hot comedian of the moment, Zach Galifianakis. The other was Robin Williams, who was promoting his new HBO special, Robin Williams: Weapons of Self-Destruction, which is set to air in December.

It wasn't surprising that Galifianakis' weird sense of humor dominated his panel; anyone who's seen him on the Comedians of Comedy tour or in The Hangover would have expected that. The surprise was that, in his panel, Williams was more reflective and pensive than manic.

Critics' Twitter feeds were burning with all the quotable lines from all the HBO panels. But Zach kept firing one line after another off, almost challenging our fingers to keep up. For instance, when I asked him what it's like to go from a popular but cult comedian to the hot comedic star of 2009 (I said he was in everything but that movie about a homicidal orphan, to which he shot back, "I worked props on that."), he responded: "If I were like 26 and this was happening I'd go out and buy like 17 Dodge Vipers. But right now, it's just a major inconvenience."

When Danson, who looked odd up there with the hipster-tastic rest of the panel, got in his jabs by saying, "For Jason and Zach: I was once on a show called Cheers," Zach replied, "Yeah, and you're telling me about it every five minutes. If it's not that, it's fucking Becker." I know Ken Levine might not want to hear this, but I think "fucking Becker" might be the catchphrase of this year's TCAs.

Wiliiams, as I mentioned, was in more of a reflective mood. You would be too, if you're a few months removed fromf heart-valve replacement surgery. He's just happy that he's still here and able to do his standup. But that doesn't mean he wasn't funny; when asked why he's returning to the stage, he said, "I'm going back to doing standup because I've run out of the merchandising money from Bicentennial Man."

He had been going to the clubs to refine his material for the special, but his heart surgery delayed that. So he'll go back out and hone at the clubs starting in August, mainly because so much has happened since before his surgery.

More funny from Robin:

On Sarah Palin, who he said will carry on the mis-speaking tour from W: "How'd they find her? Project RunningMate?"

On the speed of technology leaving him behind: "Sometimes I feel like this old man who says to his kids, 'Your mother and I were never online; we did lines.'"

And when a critic asked him if we were being used as a test audience for his act, he was very honest "Today is a great test audience because I realized I have a shitload of work to do."

After the panel, which was the last of the day, Robin was nice enough to answer reporters' questions in the post-panel scrum. I asked him about who is the most trusted person in news today (he was good friends with Walter Cronkite, a person he's famously impersonated in the past) and why he likes to keep current with today's comedy scene (he's a big fan of Galifianakis, UCB, Patton Oswalt, and The Mighty Boosh):

Robin Williams on Stephen Colbert and keeping current (2:59)

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Great Interview with Robin Williams Joel.

I remember the times when I came here because of this. Because of the insight, the commentary and comments by intelligent users.

Now it's videos, reality TV and 50% of the Posts titles end with a question mark... it's really really sad. It's like digging in mud to find treasures like this.

August 16 2009 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yuck! Fries Animal Style?

July 31 2009 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Dave's comment
Joel Keller

Are you commenting because you're familiar with the In-n-Out "secret" menu? Anyway, I thought it might be disgusting, too, but it was pretty good. Just way too heavy.

July 31 2009 at 2:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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