Transcending Comedy: Robin Williams
As early as I could remember, there was a ‘Robin Williams’. Playfully growing young again in Hook, rescuing his distraught wife in Popeye or using any mean necessary to be with his children in Mrs. Doubtfire – this was how I let a man into my life who would change it forever, without ever knowing. His films now almost play like old home movies of a family member who was adored by all.
For a child who struggled with depression (way to early to have ever conceived what I was actually going through), seeing a grown man act out on screen – letting his inner child free in so many roles was oddly comforting. Almost like a hug from someone you didn’t know fully understood what it was like to be going through the same. I always took solace in that, knowing that being different, funny wasn’t a bad thing. Williams’ energy always seemed to be very scattered, like he could go any direction other than where you wanted, but the man had control of it, he made choices even at 100 miles per hour.
It makes me happy to see the outpouring of love and affection for a man who, for all intensive purposes, touched billions of lives. Be it personally or otherwise (I was unfortunately an ‘otherwise’), we all knew who he was and how much his presence in our lives meant. For someone with so much power, he chose to do good with it. It’s hard to call the man a comedian, when it was really a movement that he was leading. To say he pushed the limits of conventional comedy, would be to say he believed at one point there were limits for him. I don’t buy that. Conventionally speaking, comedy is performed on a stage or set for an audience. Robin Williams was anything but, attracting an audience essentially everywhere he went. From the stories that poured in from celebrities high and low, and even my friends who had known and worked with the man. Williams could put on a show for a Norm Macdonald in a dressing room for a late night talk show taping, that will now, never be forgotten.
The man came into the mainstream much like Mork from Ork, from somewhere most of us had never heard of (Julliard) and did things we would have considered foreign. It’s as if he took a change on us, humanity and delivered his gifts based on our collective need for them. We’ll be forever grateful for them. He had to have known beforehand what he was getting into when he was put on Earth, almost like buying a house that’s been freshly hit by an airplane (The World According To Garp, 1982).
“We’ll take the house. Honey, the chances of another plane hitting this house are astronomical. It’s been pre-disastered. We’re going to be safe here.” – T.S. Garp.
Goodbye Mr. Williams, may you rest in the most serene of peaces.