Over the past 40-plus years, there likely haven’t been too many occasions when has taken the stage and not been the most memorable part of the evening, particularly in one of his vaunted appearances at the in his hometown.
But due to a variety of factors, including one laughably moronic couple, a woman who decided that texting in the front row was a good idea, some excellent opening acts and a slightly disjointed closing set, Tuesday night was one of those occasions.
Williams’ appearance at the weekly Mark Pitta & Friends night of standup comedy was widely rumored Tuesday. He joined comic and longtime pal Rick Overton for a set of improv to close out the night, touching on a typically hilarious and Williams-esque array of topics that included elderly male strippers, a flooded Marin County, Karl Rove and the iPhone’s Siri.
But it was clear that a few members of the audience wanted to be on stage, none moreso than a couple in the second row that repeatedly cried out for attention to their fledgling relationship and their awareness of the 50 Shades of Gray phenomenon.
The night came to an awkward conclusion when a stunned Williams and Overton caught a seemingly distracted woman texting in the front row.
“The idea here is that you tell people later on what you saw tonight and then you have had a shared experience that doesn’t involve using your f***ing thumbs,” Williams jokingly chided her.
Despite the odd ending, the night had plenty of highlights, most notable former Simpsons writer and executive producer Dana Gould giving people plenty of reasons to head to the Wednesday at 6:30 for the Art Commission’s Comedy in the Plaza event, where he’ll be appearing along with Pitta, Overton and Christina Pazsitzky for a free night of outdoor comedy. As usual, Pitta will host.
Gould, a native of Boston, was hilarious, moving from his dad (“Archie Bunker without the elegance and sophistication”) and love (“it’s all about apologizing even when you know you’re right”) to the Ku Klux Klan’s flawed choice of weaponry (“flaming torches while wearing flowing white robes”) and the prospect of becoming mentally handicapped at an inopportune time due to your previous use of the word “retarded.”
The other two acts, Joe Klocek of San Francisco and Ron Pearson of LA, gave the night a rousing start. Klocek dove head-long into immigration, from U.S. border patrol uniforms made in Mexico to catapults being used by drug smugglers, as well as Bay to Breakers, the Gay Pride Parade and a slew of other topics.
Pearson’s manic act, meanwhile, centered on juggling, first figuratively and then literally. He focused much of his set on the difficulties of parenting and then ended it with actual juggling, including with a stool and a fairly large ladder balanced on his face. It was a sight to behold.
The 411: Comedy in the Plaza features Dana Gould, Rick Overton, Christina Pazsitzky and Mark Pitta at the Plaza at 6:30 p.m. The event is free.