An ode to Robin Williams

Robin Williams and Wayne BradyRobin – I miss you already:  your brilliance, your vivacity, your smile.  I remember the character, Mork, from my childhood.  I remember laughing at the weird character with the suspenders.  I didn’t think much more of it at the time.

I’ve been a big improv fan since the late 80s.  I loved Whose Line is it Anyway all through the 90s.  My wife and I used to watch it together early on in our marriage.  Hands down my favorite episode was the one in which you guest-starred.  In typical Robin Williams fashion you stole the show.  We could barely catch our breath we were laughing so hard.  I’m pretty sure that Wayne, Colin and Ryan were having the same problem.  You moved so fast and so quick with those old pros, that it was hard for them to even keep up.

But Robin, you were so much more than just funny.  When I saw Dead Poet’s Society my view of you forever changed.  John Keating, the teacher you portrayed was not some caricature.  He was flesh and bone, heart and soul.  I was so influenced by your portrayal of John  – of his love and concern for his students – that I majored in education and became a teacher myself.

And there were so many roles where your energetic comedy and quick wit was paired with a depth of compassion and integrity.  Good Morning Vietnam – I can’t even see the name of the film without hearing your voice – Awakenings, The Fisher King, Hook, Aladdin, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, and of course – Good Will Hunting.  Robin, I never knew you personally, but I know in my soul that these characters found a lot of their grounded humanity deep in the reality of you.  You were known best as a funny man, but you were also a deep soul and a man of compassion.

My heart is sad tonight.  Selfishly sad at my own loss.  The loss of a man I respected, admired, and hoped against hope I might emulate someday in some small way.  And even now as tears well up in my eyes, I find myself smiling.  Thanks for the laughs.  Thanks for the tears.  Thanks for being Robin Williams.