NEW YORK – Comedy is all in the timing. So it makes sense that Robin Williams is a watch nut.
After I admire his uber-exclusive Franck Muller timepiece, those famous eyes light up. Suddenly he's describing in great detail his watch, then world affairs, then our own Bill O'Reilly.
Oh yeah, he also has a new movie out called Insomnia. And he's playing that for anything but laughs. He's a killer. But for this interview, he's just killing.
Robin Williams: (Pointing to his wrist) This is a Conquistador, because it's a sports watch. And I can wear this when I'm riding a bike. But (Franck Muller) has one that's designed for the blind that chimes the hours.
Bill McCuddy: So it's a minute repeater.
Williams: Yeah, but it also goes [off at] quarter hours and minutes. And they chime so when you press the button they go 'ding, ding, ding.' It's for the blind, it's like going 'What!?'
McCuddy: (To the others in the room) Welcome back to 'Watch Hour.'
Williams: We're talking watches. We'll be right back. Franck Muller. (Swiss accent) And also discussing Swiss watches for all time. That's the name of our show, 'For All Time.' The first watch — a sundial — worn by an Emperor who said, 'Why doesn't it wind?' And they said, 'It's simply a triangle.'
McCuddy: You know there's a Rolex building on Fifth Avenue and right next to it a fake Rolex building.
Williams: Yeah, with African salesmen out front. (South African accent) 'Come on down, look at the Rolex.' Why does it say 'Polex?' 'Same watch. Don't be walkin' away!'
McCuddy: Why is it spelled 'R-O-L-E-C-K-S?'
Williams: (Laughs) Rollecks, yes! Rolaid? This is Rolaid! 'It's the same thing.'
McCuddy: I'm with a man that you can say almost anything to ...
Williams: ... Almost.
McCuddy: ...and get some kind of a reaction. From the News Channel, I have to ask you about current events. Catholic Church. What should they do?
Williams: I think you can do two things. I think the automated confessional would be very good. 'Press one if it's venal. Press two if it's about Father Tim.' I think they've had this thing they're trying now, the shock collar on problem priests. If their hand goes below a certain level: ZAP! I think that helps.
I think first of all, the Pope wearing Ermine and looking like Liberace's stunt double has been very hard. Hard to deal with the whole, 'Hey, what are we saying here?' But I think there are some possible solutions. They already have a witness relocation program.
McCuddy: Who builds that car?
Williams: (Laughs) Who made the popemobile?
McCuddy: Yeah. That looks kind of ...
Williams: And why don't they put bingo balls in there? That's what I'm hoping. They should put bingo balls in the popemobile. That way you double down. He could be traveling around in there making lots of money. I [also] think people would love (he begins humming an impromptu papal theme song) popesicles!
McCuddy: You were saying about witness relocation?
Williams: Already there's a witness protection program. I think people's problem with that is the divine witness protection program where they would just find a priest, find a pedophile, find a priest, find a pedophile. But they're working through it and I think now that the problem is out, that they will deal with it.
McCuddy: Reality programming, are you a fan of things like The Bachelor and Fear Factor?
Williams: Well, Fear Factor and The Chamber and The Chair, they've had those shows in Texas for years, they just don't film them, you know? It's just like 'Dead Man Talking.' When they're down there, they're about to execute a man who had one leg and they weren't going to give him the time to get a leg made. So it would be 'Dead Man Hopping.' I'm going, 'You can do it, Stubby. Come on down.'
But you know, these shows, where they're basically, you know, torturing people, I've seen it for years on Japanese TV. They used to have game shows ... they would give five guys quarts and quarts of Kirin beer and then stand them up and run water, and just see who's the last one not to urinate. What do you call it? (Japanese accent) 'Uh, Peeing for Dollars.'
McCuddy: They had one where they would leave a suitcase on a subway. Can you imagine that these days?
Williams: Well, no —
McCuddy: ...and run away from it as fast as possible and they thought that was hysterical.
Williams: Yeah, it's funny in Japan. (Japanese yokel) 'Coulda be a bomb! Hahahahaha! Think funny joke time! Welcome to terrorist fun!'
McCuddy: Is it joke time after 9/11?
Williams: Yeah, there are certain things people will talk about. There's other things, no. It's going to the point where you're kind of coming around from initially there was this horror. Then a numbness. And then people are coming out and kind of going, 'Where do we go next?' Yeah.
McCuddy: We want to find bin Laden. What would you do?
Williams: Well, first of all, he's a six-foot-five-inch Arab on dialysis. Look for someone attached to their luggage. What else? I think Freud would say he has issues: He's one of 52 kids, you know, you have that. There's a lot going on there. What does he look like without the beard? Someone said Barbra Streisand, [but] I don't think so.
Is he in a cave somewhere? I was thinking one of the ways is, if you're having problems and you don't want to send people into the caves, I guarantee you a couple of New York rats [would] work really well. I have seen New York rats look at a cat going (Brooklyn accent) 'C'mon kitty, hang it up.'
McCuddy: Or we could send Bill O'Reilly after him.
Williams: Either way, you're going to scare people! (Laughs) Put Bill O'Reilly in there. (O'Reilly voice) 'Come on! On line two! You're ridiculous! Bring it on!' Who the [expletive] does he mean? Or drop Martha Stewart tapes. That'll get him out of there.
Robin Williams' new film Insomnia opens Memorial Day weekend.