When I first heard the news yesterday evening that someone who helped define comedy for a generation, Robin Williams, shocking passed away from apparent suicide, I spent many hours trying to figure out how to ultimately respond to it. Would I go home, turn on the camera and vocally express my sorrow and feelings, or take that time to write everything down as best as I can as quickly as possible? Well, I guess you know the choice I made.
Part of that definitely lies in the fact that I clearly don’t have the ability that Williams had – something that I have long known and just made me admire him even more.
I maintained for many years that if Robin Williams wasn’t the greatest comedian ever, it’s still a close call between him and Bill Cosby. He of course was reason number one “Aladdin” remains perhaps my favorite Disney movie ever, but naturally it was reruns of “Mork and Mindy” that I got my first taste of him. And what was most amazing was hearing how when that show was produced, the writers would often leave whole pages of the script blank and pretty much told him “do what you want,” knowing he could do that and produce something better than they could ever write.
A lot of us in the Internet community (though there may be some exceptions) could never do something like that. I definitely couldn’t. I’m terrible doing anything off-book; just about everything, especially what I perform, has to be carefully thought and written out or else it comes off terribly. So for someone like that to be such a genius thinking on his feet as a performer – it just showed what an unbelievable talent the guy was.
It also makes you have to think that something must have been really, really wrong for this to happen, because no way would someone who brought so much joy for so many years would now suddenly want to cause so much misery. It just shows how much of a scary and misunderstood condition depression can be. I have never been officially diagnosed with depression, but I often feel like I suffer from similar symptoms. And yet I have never even considered taking THAT step ever. To hear that someone who brought so much laughter would ever get so depressed that it would end this way – it sends shock a blow that just about anyone could be secretly harboring some dark demons, that they might actually be screaming for help inside but have no idea how to do so on the outside.
The world just got a lot less funny.