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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Shatner's World Boldly Goes Where No Ego Has Gone Before -- And We Gladly Follow

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 11:30 AM


"Galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young."

So quipped Captain Kirk to Dr. McCoy in The Wrath of Khan, and despite the fact that he turns 81 this month (looking better than many men 20 years younger), William Shatner has hardly taken that advice to heart. He's on a national tour with his one-man show, Shatner's World, which stops at the Orpheum Theatre for one show Sunday.

I think we know what to expect here: Captain Kirk making fun of his Kirk-ness, ribbing his later role as T.J. Hooker, all while congratulating himself on the towering edifice that is his life, work, and ability to laugh at himself. The video clips of Shatner's World available on its website display the master of the humblebrag in action.

The thing about Shatner, though, is that he is funny a lot of the time. He was consistently hilarious on Boston Legal, and his Has Been album from a few years back has at least two classic cuts on it ("Common People" and "I Can't Get Behind That" with Henry Rollins) that display a real sense of humor.

There's no escaping the legendary Shatner ego, however, which among Star Trek co-stars alone has caused feuds with James Doohan (Scotty), George Takei (Sulu), and Nichelle Nichols (Uhura). And that ego is also the "joke" at the center of Shatner's World.

But it's a joke that sometimes self-defeating. For example, in the show, Shatner talks about passing a kidney stone while working on Boston Legal, only to be approached by someone who offers him $25,000 for it. Shatner talks the buyer up to $75,000, donates the money to Habitat for Humanity, and (while practically bowing at his own magnanimity) closes the bit by stating that somewhere near New Orleans somebody is living in a house purchased by his kidney stone. Do I need to suggest that this doesn't come off as plain ol' heartwarming?

But still. There's something about Shatner's engorged persona that we can't get enough of. He's so completely in love with himself, and so unafraid of embracing that fact. When you get down to it, he's pretty unpretentious -- or at least whatever pretension exists, it's so transparent as to render it inoffensive. He has been the captain of the Starship Enterprise, a cop, the host of Rescue 911, the face of, and even a "real" actor in movies such as Judgment at Nuremburg, The Brothers Karamazov, and The Outrage -- oh, and don't forget Big Mad Mama, in which he got to touch almost all the less-important parts of Angie Dickinson. There's also that well-known Twilight Zone episode where he loses his mind on a commercial flight stopping a gremlin tampering with one of the plane's motors. (See a very clever condensation of that episode into two minutes in the clip below.)

With such a long and varied career, Shatner's one-man show is surely about more than just an actor projecting a sparkling self-image. Shatner might be a man of many talents, but he's no mystery. We know what to expect from a show called Shatner's World, and that's one of the reasons we still love the guy.

Shatner's World starts Sunday (March 11) at the Orpheum Theatre, 1192 Market (at Eighth St.), S.F. Admission is $40-$300.

Follow Casey Burchby and SF Weekly's Exhibitionist blog on Twitter.

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Casey Burchby


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