By now you know Robin Williams is dead. It is hard not to know as it has dominated all forms of media for the last couple of days.
I don’t “do” celebrities. I have been fortunate enough to meet many of them and some I have the pleasure of calling my friends. But I don’t stalk them, idolise them, want to be them, care what they endorse or even get concerned about what happens to them. They are people. They have their lives and I have mine. To be honest, I have enough trouble trying to get my life right let alone worry about other peoples, let alone famous people I will never meet.
This was different for me.
His death kicked me in the guts, brought me to tears and broke something inside. It has taken me a few days to collect myself and I felt I needed to write something.
I don’t know Robin, I never met him and most importantly, I have no idea about who he truly is. I am not sure anyone did. Any of his media interviews descended into farce and laughter. Even the serious ones end up off the track and distracted from the internal entity that was Robin.
He was very public with his issues – from addiction to health and even finance, yet still we never knew him.
Zelda, his daughter, mentions that while there are many photos of Robin she has the memories of time spent with him. She and her family were probably some of the very few who actually knew him.
To me, he was the King of the Stage and I wanted to be like the persona I saw.
Over the years he has given me many gifts that I can never repay and for which I am eternally grateful.
He showed me it was OK to be me. In a time and location where I felt my humour and habits were “not normal” he showed me it was OK to be “out there”. It was OK to show off, laugh and be genuinely crazy. It was OK to not conform, to be different and to be loud and proud of that difference.
He showed me it was OK to be hairy. His bath scene during Moscow on the Hudson was one of the first times I had seen a truly hirsute man on screen. In his stand up he would often refer to his body hair. Under this clean cut suit of mine is a man who looks more like Koko the gorilla than Robin does. While society seems to think “Hair is Bad”, I am now certain, “Hair is Me.”
He showed me what I think is the ultimate in comedy. To riff off what is in front of you, to say what is on your mind without thinking, to make it up as you go, to take it to the end and then take it further – that it a talent that I prize highly. I like to think that in some of my moments I can almost reach it and it is magical when I do.
He showed me there is a time to be serious. Some of his work is downright chilling. One Hour Photo and Insomnia prove that he is not just a comedian but he is a true actor.
He showed me that things will not go your way, but you can still have fun. Whether in the guise of Patch Adams, Adrian Cronauer or simple as Robin Williams, fighting his own demons anything is laughable. Some of his stand up seemed like drowning his own tragedies in laughter.
He showed me perspective. By shifting your view to the stance of another, you can open your mind to something new. His rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s Fire as Elmer Fudd is 90 seconds of pure magic.
He showed me the power of laughter. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t laugh at Robin. Kids, adults and all in between, there was something magical about his approach to life and laughter.
Most importantly, he showed me that even though I have to grow older, I don’t have to grow up. So I am not going to!
Thank you Robin for the laughs but more importantly, thank you for truly guiding me into the person that I am today.
My marketing blurb says it and I truly feel it, I am part Robin Williams.
The King is dead. Long live the King. Your table is ready.
Image: I stole it of Facebook