7 Years Later: Remembering Robin Williams
Back in August of 2014 when Robin Williams passed, a coworker commented that I should write a post, how his passing has affected me from a "comedian's" perspective. I was honored and saddened. First, because I've never really thought of myself as a comedian. I just like to make people laugh and hopefully have a better day because of it. And second, because Robin was in such a league of his own that I never thought I'd ever be in the same category as him ... "comedian."
I then thought about this, and as the days and years went on and on, I, like most of you, saw the different comments and updates. Some very newsworthy, heartfelt and understanding. Some that I will admit made me laugh out loud when I heard them. Even memes today have his face behind movie quotes. Quotes like: "No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world." & "You're only given one little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it." They still hold true after all these years.
He passed away from suicide. That made me very sad and angry. Sad for the obvious reasons, angry because he did not reach out for help. I've heard, from his own words, how some of the funniest people are the saddest, because they're trying to make sure no one else feels sad, since they know how they feel. I also felt extremely angry at the people who said he was a coward and selfish for taking his own life, you have never been in his shoes. You do not know what was going through his mind at the end, and have no right to pass judgment on him or his family or anyone one who commits suicide. Coward? Have you ever gone to a country DURING wartime in order to make the troops laugh? Selfish? Have you visited children who are very sick just in hopes of putting a smile on their faces? It takes a while, but time does help heal.
Yes, and... Robin and Improv!
One thought that keeps coming back to me is how fast Robin's mind was. We've seen him on stage, either in stand-up comedy or TV interviews, but the man was rapid fire. A great mind! That can also be a curse.
I know back when I performed with Manic Thunder, after a night of doing improv comedy I will come home and try to go to bed, and toss and turn for hours because I cannot shut my brain off. I can't comprehend the sheer scope of the awesome mind that sat above Robin's eyes and below his hair. Heck, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote in his Sherlock Holmes books how Holmes could not shut his brain off, and that it led to stints of depression as well as use of cocaine when he was not on a case. In fiction and reality ... great minds.
I really laugh when people talked about "Mork and Mindy" and "Nanu Nanu" because on his 2002 Live comedy album he states that he does this (stand-up comedy) to try to forget about that. Yes, that gave him his start of fame, but I'm sure after over 30 years of it, it can get pretty annoying. Here's where I'm going to lose some of my "Williams Cred". I've never seen "Mork and Mindy." It was before my time, and as much as I love everything about Robin Williams (even his movies that were meh -- "Night Listener" & "RV"), when I heard him say what he did about "Nanu Nanu" on the live CD I own, I decided, "Well, if he's not happy with it, I won't watch it."
Plus, I must say a lot of my generation and the younger ones have no clue who Mork the alien was. They will never know that part of great comedy. That's OK. Luckily Robin had so much more that he gave us.
The first time I saw Robin Williams.
My first introduction was of him in the movie "Popeye." Yes, that one was before my time, too, but thanks to the cartoon and a mom who loved Robin Williams as well, she made sure I watched it. Then of course "Hook," "Aladdin," "Mrs. Doubtfire," "Jumanji" and "Night at the Museum" and others made us laugh and love him.
In school they made us watch "Dead Poets Society," which was my first real glimpse into what an amazing actor he was. And you can't forget "Good Will Hunting" and "Patch Adams."
My wife asked me what my favorite movie of his is, and I thought about it for a whole three second before I blurted out "Death To Smoochy." It is not for kids, but if you want a great laugh about the dark side of children's entertainment, i.e. "Barney" and "Teletubbies," check that movie out. His final film that he performed in (post-mortem) was as the voice of Dennis the Dog in a live action movie with Simon Pegg, Kate Beckinsale & the surviving members of Monty Python called "Absolutely Anything". Underrated movie, but between Pegg, Python & Williams, I laughed plenty of times. Possible spoiler warning, it's very fitting that Robin Williams' final performance saves the world!
When it comes down to it, how do I feel? 7 years after his death, the same as a lot of people. Still sad, but very grateful that he was on this earth to give us some amazing laughs, smiles and insights. If you do need help, please remember you're not alone. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.