The world became a little dimmer, this week. Laughter became harder to come by, this week. Someone who has bought so much joy to those who were or are in pain, has gone to pass the smiles on to those in heaven. One of the greats of the comedy and drama world has passed on. Earlier this week, Robin Williams, someone who I first saw on Happy Days! lo, those many years ago, and who has been able to make me laugh, and reflect, over the decades since, has died.
Robin Williams was a talent, an actor, a person, that touched the lives of millions. As a comedian, entertaining not just audiences in the United States and abroad, but entertaining the troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, and other sites around the world, Robin was able to touch on subjects that were hilarious, and relevant, to the people he entertained. As an actor in movies as diverse as the drama The Dead Poets Society to hilarious comedies like The Birdcage or Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin’s range of talent awed, inspired, and gave people a good feeling, both about themselves, and about him. But there was more to Robin than his comedic or acting talent.
Robin opened himself to people. He listened to people, he shared their feelings. Robin was one of the ultimate in empathic support. Though he hid from the public his continual battle with depression, Robin never hid from the public. He was always there, to share your pain and your joy. When Robin did his USO tours, it wasn’t just the stage shows that people remembered. It was his time spent with the troops, listening to them, sharing their life stories. When Robin toured around the US, wherever he stopped, he didn’t just glad-hand people and move on. The Today Show crew gave stories of how Robin met with not just the hosts, but all the people working, learning their names, little things about them, whether the cameras were rolling or not. The hosts told about how he would meet with all the audience members who wanted to meet with him, on the plaza, regardless of the state of filming, whether the show was going on or finished. Robin felt if the audience made the effort to come see him, the very least he could do is acknowledge their effort.
Robin Williams was a tortured soul, who hid his depression and his devils well. Only those close to him, or those who followed him for years, realized the depth of his anguish. But Robin didn’t believe in burdening many with his woes. Even in therapy, in rehab, Robin was still the entertainer. Robin was still the listener. Robin was still the empath, sharing the pain, giving of himself. Robin wasn’t an angel. I come not to just praise him. Robin had his evils.
Robin, according to his own recollections, should have owned a good piece of Colombia, based on the amount he sniffed up his nose. Yes, Robin included his bouts with drugs and excess in his comedy routine. But Robin really did go overboard, indulging himself with his new-found celebrity as the manic alien in Mork and Mindy, as well as his comedy act and his appearances in talk shows and interviews. Robin was a wild child of the ‘80s and ‘90s, partaking of those illicit and licit pleasures open to the A-Listers, and some B and C-Listers as well. But Robin cleaned himself up, sobered up, and started a new phase. I believe Robin cleaned himself up for his children, who he loved deeply, and didn’t want them to be ashamed of him and his activities that didn’t involve acting or comedy.
Robin Williams was a special talent. His humor, and his gravitas in drama movies, touched, not just those who are human, but extended itself across species. Koko, the sign-language speaking gorilla, loved Robin. According to her foster mother, Koko, who’d just lost her loved one Michael, came to life when Robin visited. She also said that Koko happily spent two hours with Robin, longer than she’d spent with any other human, and became more responsive, more open, since the death of Michael. Robin loved the interaction, and spoke about it for years. Robin was, indeed, special.
The world became a little less brighter. We lost some of our laughter this week. Heaven, however, is rocking with laughs, smiles, and giggles. Mrs. Doubtfire is giving St Pete a hard time about the state of the Pearly Gates. The Genie is popping in and out, and causing all kinds of chaos. Robin is arranging a celestial Comedy Relief for those poor souls that didn’t quite make it. Robin Williams has left the building, and we are all the poorer for having lost him, but heaven is so much richer…
And if Robin went the other way, the Devil is laughing so hard, he’s forgotten to torture anyone, and Robin will keep him like that for millennia