When I was a freshman in high school, for some reason, I was stuck in the library. I don’t know what it was for, probably a study hall or something. But I went on a quest to find a book to read, something real, non-fiction and quick. There was this rotating shelf of celebrity biographies right at the front of the library, near the checkout desk, placed there to hopefully garner some eyes from kids who maybe don’t read all that much. I found myself in front of this spinny thing, checking for something that might take up the hour. The book I grabbed was a biography on Robin Williams, and I read it in that one sitting. From that moment on, I realized how many of his movies had inspired me in someway, and how many I’d watched on repeat as a kid and teenager. The book mentioned other stuff, too, about his charity, his personal life, and his disposition, some of which I didn’t know about at all. I felt a connection to the guy and it was then I realized I was truly a fan of his.
Around this time, I started listening to lots and lots of standup. I watched specials, too, but audio droned in my ears from decades and decades of performances. When I found Robin’s stuff, it was like a new genre of comedy became clear to me. Jumping from topic to topic, from impression to impression, from character to character, he really opened up this whole new avenue of performing standup comedy to me. He did crowd work, some of the first crowd work I’d really ever heard, and it really made an impression on me as a guy trying to figure out how to get started in the same field.
There’s really some power to being a celebrity. People listen to you, they support you, they mourn you. But the real power comes from being a talent. Robin Williams was a talent, a guy who really offered the world his comedic and dramatic take on just about everything. He gave the world a lot of things. Things to laugh at, things to be raised on. I’ve always wanted to and still want to be that guy. Underneath any mask he was wearing, there was that piece of him that was just so genuine. He was remarkable, and he’s someone who I never got the chance to meet but feel like I’ve known all my life. If he’s not for you, then you are not for most.
In my honest opinion, it doesn’t get much better than than RW. He’s all four faces on my Mount Rushmore of comedy, all five names on my dream dinner guest list.
RIP Robin Williams, and may you never forget how to fly again.