An ode to Robin Williams.
When I was a kid my father and I used to watch stand up specials and funny movies together. We loved all the greats: Richard Pryor. Joan Rivers. George Carlin. Bill Hicks. Phyllis Diller. Robin Williams. It was how we bonded. It was our thing. We specifically loved Robin Williams. I grew up in awe of his boundless energy and seemingly limitless comedic brain and it was because of that I knew I wanted to be funny. His comedy was some of the first I had ever seen and it made an everlasting impact on me.
For me, when I found out he passed away, It felt like an era had ended. An era of true legends and boundary-pushers. Comedians who challenged the injustices of the time and laid their hearts out on stage, and introduced us their darkest personal demons that they themselves mocked for our amusement. I literally sat on my toilet yesterday and sobbed for him. Then I did the only thing that I knew would make me feel better, I called my father.
Pops: “Yea, babe?”
Me: “Robin Williams is dead.”
Pops: “I know, babe. It’s horrible.”
Me: “I’m just sad I never met him, now I never will. And I want you to know when I think of him I think of you and it makes me happy because those are our memories. And I love you.”
Pops: “You don’t have to worry about me, babe. I’m not going anywhere (laughing). I’m gonna stick around until I’m 90 and drive all you kids nuts.”
Me: “I love you.”
Pops: “I know you do, I love you, too.”
For me, though, death, like pain, is a motivator. It’s life’s harshest reality check. Reminding us of our fragile and mortal existence. I never got to meet Robin Williams. He was on my list, though. Williams was/is one of the reasons I got into comedy in the first place. His physicality and unwavering ability to be both goofy and poignant, simultaneously, always left me feeling envious. I wanted to do what he did.
Death is like a little reminder of our mortality and our ultimate fate. Wow! It’s rare to feel true sadness about about the death of someone you’ve never met. I’m mourning a man I never knew. But, then again, he gave so much up on stage that you couldn’t help but to feel like you knew his darkest secrets. I’m not going to focus on how he died. There’s been some judgmental comments about suicide and it being a “selfish act”. I won’t judge a person for succumbing to their own demons because I’ve seen it happen first hand in my family. It so easy for someone to chop depression down to “an inconsiderate and selfish act” when you don’t understand just how deep it can permeate one’s soul.
I’m sad. This was a big loss for the comedy community and for anyone who enjoyed his talents. I went roller blading this morning, as I do every morning, with my pit bull Carlin. Instead of listening to my usual 90’s hip hop workout mix, I chose Robin Williams, “Live On Broadway”. There’s a parking lot I always bring Carlin to because it’s big and open. I arrived there just as his special started to play in my headphones. I was laughing out loud along to one of my childhood hero’s stand up specials as I rollerbladed like an asshole in circles with dog named after my other childhood hero, George Carlin. Carlin, my dog, responding to my jovial energy began to bark and jump up at me and it was then I felt tears running down my face. I was laughing and crying at the same damn time. I couldn’t stop myself. I skated, crying and laughing like that until special had ended. And I had a memory of my father and I laughing together and that’s an invaluable gift. Thank you Mr. Williams.