EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a few tribute pieces we’ll be running on the site. Matt runs a ton of awesome websites, podcasts, and organizations… and wanted to share a bit about Robin Williams’ importance to him. We’ll be featuring a few pieces on Robin’s art in the next week or two, some very personal, some about the films and the roles themselves, and we’d love if you would want to share how much this late great genius meant to you, too. Thanks for sharing in our reverence of a talented life lost.
Comedy is a dark, lonely road.
I’ve done stand-up before and quickly learned it was cut throat. I didn’t have the thick skin it took to stand on a stage in front of a group for a very public judging. But there was still something inside me that needed to write and be funny. I filled this with blogs, podcasts, comedy music, and screenplays.
Every time I’d perform a song live or read comments on my blog or listen to the laughter during a script reading of something I’ve written I thought the same thing time and time again. Why is it I can make everyone happy but myself?
Depression and comedy certainly go hand in hand. The idea of a celebrity dying at a young age isn’t exactly something new to us. Over the years I’ve lost many masters to overdoses and suicides, so you think we’d be prepared for any comedian to go in an instant. But we weren’t prepared for Robin Williams.
We will remember him for the way he made us feel. I can’t remember my first introduction to him. Was it Ferngully when he voiced Batty Koda an escaped lab-bat who (thanks to a wiring in his brain) spouts non-stop pop culture references? Or maybe Aladdin as the voice of the beloved Genie? It was probably Hook when he played a grown up Peter Pan who has to face his childhood enemies in order to save his kids.
We will remember the way he made us laugh, because he was good at it. He had a gift for voices, maniac energy and also to make a room smile. I loved watching his movies with my family because I’d see my families faces light up as laughed and tonight we cried together.
What we easily forget however is how frequently his characters showed us the darkness in the world. I’m not just talking about when he played stalkers (One Hour Photo) or killers (Insomnia) or crazy children show hosts (Death to Smoochy). Almost every one of his characters had a lot to deal with.
Daniel Hillard doing ANYTHING to be with his kids. How about Alan Parrish getting reacquainted with a brand new world? Jack Powell and his tragically short life or Sean Maguire who’s wife’s death still rests heavily on his heart.
It’s impossible to not be touched by him, even in his worst films he still managed to make you crack a smile. But never forget that at the end of the day, he was a dark man who I’m sure got a real thrill out of starring in World’s Greatest Dad (an extremely dark comedy about suicide) right before starring in three children’s films (Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Old Dogs, and Happy Feet Two)
I (like any person who believes themselves to be a comedian) owe our careers to him, no matter how big or how small. Thank you Mr. Williams for reminding us to live every life like it’s an adventure and to never lose our sense of wonder.