Final Thoughts on Robin Williams

This week, we at RevPub decided to pay our respects to Robin Williams. It’s rare we are affected by celebrity news, but this announcement hit us especially hard. It chipped away a piece of my heart. I remember standing there thinking … he was the genie. The genie is gone.

I grew up watching Robin Williams. I remember my grandma loving Hook, my brother loving Aladdin, everyone loving Mrs. Doubtfire. I watched his movies because he starred in them. He made me laugh and sometimes cry, and I loved his smile too. The genie in Aladdin remains one of my favorite Disney characters of all time, and I still quote and sing songs from the movie – especially “you ain’t ever had a friend like me.” That movie is still my favorite Disney movie and always will be. Robin Williams made that movie a hit.

The night of his passing, I watched the Weapons of Self Destruction stand-up and laughed to tears. I had a unique, strange experience while watching it though. When he discussed drug abuse and usage (specifically acid), the streaming on my TV slowed way down, so he had this trippy glow around his arms, head, and legs as he moved. At first, I thought it was part of the show (for TV audiences) because it was like watching the show under the influence of something, and it fit so well. From what I’ve heard about acid, it would compare to an acid trip lol. Once I realized it wasn’t part of the show, I stopped streaming and resumed, and the slow-mo glow was gone. As crazy as it sounds, it was as if he showed his appreciation for my watching the stand-up that night. I believe in spirits and energy, and that was too weird to not acknowledge.

It’s no secret he had his demons – we all do. Substance abuse, alcoholism, depression all tormented him, but many creative geniuses suffer in the same ways. Hell, schools around the world teach classes on the authors alone. Learning about the suicide hurt me more than his passing. This person dedicated his entire life to making others happy – even if only for a moment – and felt so low and hopeless he took his own life. Some believe people who commit suicide should not be celebrated, but it doesn’t matter how we die, it’s how we live. And he lived for others. With that said, I want to pay my respects to an actor who made me laugh throughout my entire life. We will miss him.
My Favorite Robin Williams movies:

Good Morning, Vietnam

Hook

Aladdin

Mrs. Doubtfire

Jumanji

The Birdcage

Jack

Flubber

One Hour Photo

Insomnia

In Memorium: Robin Williams

This past Sunday I was hanging around the house by myself playing some games, working on some writing, and I wanted to find something fun, light-hearted, and entertaining to watch or listen to. Scrolling through my Netflix list I came across one of my favorite comedies, one of the movies that can make me laugh out loud over and over, even if I watch it five times in a row… The Birdcage.

Though it really is an ensemble cast, the heart and soul of the whole film is the one and only Robin Williams. Seeing him at his best, so lively, as the owner of a high-class drag club on Sunday made the news of his passing on Monday even more shocking than it would have been…and it would have been anyway.

His performance as Armand Goldman in The Birdcage is his entire career summed up to me. At once he was completely hilarious, pithy, witty, sarcastic, and goofy; yet he also possessed the subtle gentleness of a father, and portrayed a gay nightclub owner with style and grace rather than completely over the top and flamboyant, though he could swing that when the scene or situation called for it.   That to me is Robin Williams. We’ve seen him be all of those things and more on screen, and he’s one person who, in interviews, always seemed to be four or five steps ahead and doing circles around his interviewer in a way not seen since the likes of Groucho Marx.

When I heard the news on Monday I was transported to two places in my memory: the first was the early Nineties. I used to love standup comedy and watched loads of them on HBO or Comedy Central. I saw Gallagher, Penn and Teller, Sinbad, and Bill Cosby: Himself (still one of my favorites). It was during this period I saw Robin Williams: Off the Wall, a rousing, fast-paced, comedy barrage by one of its masters. Despite his many and varied roles; comedy, drama, or even suspense, he was always that person to me. A young soul just waiting for emotion, whatever emotion was surging through him at the moment, to pour out in effortless waves.

The second memory was when I actually saw him in person once, if only for a moment while manning a booth at a book festival in Nashville. It was a weekend he was performing a concert during a stand-up tour and, wearing dark sunglasses and a casual street clothes, he walked by slowly, just taking in the event. It was early in the evening and the festival was clearing out with very few people still there. But he was there. And that moment sticks with me. He wasn’t there seeking attention or, alternatively, trying to hide from the public. He was just there. As a patron. He waved as a few people noticed him, a small subtle move, and gave us a small smile as he went by.  We all just kind of looked at each other in stunned silence until a fellow booth-worker said, “wait…was that Robin Williams?” It was indeed, and I’m reminded of it now.  He passed by us far too quickly but in that instant gave us all a thrill.  And a smile.

He’ll be missed.