Yesterday we lost legendary comedian and actor Robin Williams at age 63. In remembrance, we’re sharing a few thoughts and links about Williams, whose influence and spirit are immense.
Kate: We’re all feeling this one. Why did John Keating, Genie, Alan Parrish, Mrs. Doubtfire, and countless other characters connect to me, but really, so many of us? Through his frenetic, electrifying performances, Robin Williams preserved our childlike resistance to the plights of adulthood — the monotony, the normalcy, the identity-stripping. His characters were largely outliers, but they were always speakers for some grand cause. They urged us through the years to explore the wild, to hunt for the poetic, to be something bigger, grander, more meaningful than any of our self-doubt or pitying will ever allow us to be. He inspired, even in grief. There was a wildness, a Santa-like twinkle in his eye that called for a belief in something too many of us forget to believe in: play.
Legend has it that during Robin Williams’ Inside the Actors Studio interview, an audience member laughed so hard, he developed a hernia and left by an ambulance. And there is Robin Williams in a nutshell: something deeply human, quietly tragic, and relentlessly, aggressively, indelibly funny.
Today we are calling him our weird uncle, our hero, our true comic, and our teacher. For many, Robin Williams was shorthand for happiness and marvel. He pulled on some unknown renewable energy, and became a conduit for joy and mania. That’s how he fed us. He nourished generations with laughter.
Jillian: O Captain, My Captain.
To be perfectly honest, Robin Williams’ death is the first celebrity death that has truly shaken me to the core. I have never cried over the death of a celebrity, until last night, as I put on Hook, to drown my sorrows in childhood wonder.
When I first saw Dead Poets Society in my 9th grade Creative Writing class, it made me feel at home. It was in that moment, watching Robin Williams crouch between a huddled group of kids my age, explaining the importance of words, that solidified my need to write. Robin Williams encompassed everything I remember about being a kid. He was the shining light within the awkward transition of my childhood in the ’90s.
When he spoke, the bravado of his voice swallowed the lines and regurgitated them, new and better than could ever have been written, like they were made to be toiled with within his self. Williams captured what it meant to have fun, but also what it meant to suffer, what it meant to fight, and fall, and get back up. His strength was not only showcased in the characters he portrayed but in the way he treated the people that were lucky enough to call him a friend or family. He wasn’t just the jester in our court, but the healer, the wizard, and most importantly, the king.
This amazing collection of Robin Williams moments, from his early stand-up days to Jumanji and beyond, will most likely make you cry all over again.
Comedian Paul F. Tompkins remembers what Robin Williams meant to him. “Robin Williams will live on in shadows and light and sound, at least. He will continue to comfort weird little kids (and odd adults, for that matter) with his performances, those who know his work today and those who have yet to be born, who may experience him ten, fifty, a hundred years from now.”
Marc Maron reposted his infamous WTF podcast with Williams where he discusses his battle with alcoholism and depression. It’s a delicate, deep, and intrusive conversation but one that you need to hear if you haven’t already.
Roots drummer, Questlove, tells anyone who will listen on Instagram about an amazing moment in an elevator with Williams before the Grammys.
And now, let’s all laugh, cry, and remember his magic.