Robin Williams was in rare (okay, typical) form last night at the premiere of his new schmaltzy caper, August Rush. In it, he plays a Fagan-like proprietor of an abandoned theater, home to a gang of musical orphans (really). We asked him if he ever played a musical instrument in real life. “Yes,” he said, “and I've been asked to stop.” Turns out he spent some time playing the sax: “I did a black blues-player set,” he said; then he turned into a black blues player: “Man, you just gotta relax! You gotta make love to it, don't hurt it, you know?” But his favorite music, he said, is the music of New York. "Look around you," he exclaimed. "It’s like Gershwin flowin'! It’s got music, girl, everywhere. Uptown, downtown” — he turned into a feisty Latina. "Hola, mira, Mami. You got this thing, and it just keeps you movin’, ju know? You gotta have it, Papi. You know, leesten, leesten. Iss all crazy! You got to have music! And then you have the Russian clubs in Brooklyn" — with this he made some Russian-seeming sounds — "and Jewish music, Vhot, music!? It’s klezmer, what! Music to flee by! That’s why we take the skin off our penis — you gotta move! You can’t travel with that! Then you get in a cab" — he made some high-pitched wailing sounds — "Can you turn the radio down? Osama, please." At this, the publicist began pulling him away, either because she felt enough was enough with the ethnic stereotypes or because the screening was about to begin. In his wake, however, there was a chorus of laughter. —Ben Kawaller
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