I’m very upset over Robin Williams passing. It shook me on many levels. Many others have been more eloquent and more fearless with their words, but I wanted to say something.
I took it hard when Harold Ramis passed. Now another influence, and in some ways I realized a greater influence, gone almost derailed me. I read about it the evening it was announced. I felt sadness and a heaviness, that internal child whine of, “ No.” It really upset me he committed suicide. It hurts me anyone feels that bleakness. I felt especially sorry an influence felt it.
One article had a slide show of his work and it kept going and going. He worked. I hadn’t seen all his movies, but most of the slides were films I had seen. As soon as I saw a familiar frame, I was reminded how I felt when I saw the film. I had grown up with his films. They all brought happy, fun memories with family and friends.
In first grade, I first heard about “Hook” in gym class. We played some sort of tag game where topics like movie titles are called out and you run on your favorite one. Well, “Addams Family” was the popular one so I ran with the group for my own safety in the game. One kid ran on “Hook”.
Like many, I think “Aladdin” changed my life and launched my imagination into another world. I remember seeing clips of him recording the Genie’s voice. I thought it was so cool how animated he was in the box. Everyone else stood close to the microphone. He danced, threw his arms around, and used his hands to talk.
“The Birdcage” I loved. I’d do the “Fosse, Fosse, Fosse…but you keep it all inside” part for my mom. “Mrs. Doubtfire”….
I was in college when I saw “Good Morning Vietnam”. I know it’s based on a true story but I still loved the concept, the energy, and the riffing. How could he do all that? You know…be human.
I watched “Weapons of Self Destruction” at a friend’s house. She fell asleep. I stayed up, stifling laughs, unable to stop watching. The speed. How did he have all that energy? Fine, he did drugs. He still did a 90 minute show at a high level and kept it there. I’m not condoning it. I’m not saying, “Guess what my new training regime is?” I don’t want to get into the “Does drugs take away from the performance?” argument. With or without substances, we would still know Robin Williams and still say he was funny.
He was an influence because he introduced me to a different kind of comedy. I’d grown up on older movies, musicals, and radio comedies. Then there was Robin Williams. This whole new world of comedy. He was a genie, something great and powerful that brought magic to us all.