Robin Williams - RIP
By Dale Angel
Way back in the 70’s a “full goose bozo” appeared in the clubs in Hollywood. Robin Williams sort of exploded onto the scene, soon landing a part on Happy Days as Mork, an alien from outer space. As Williams seemed to be out of place on this planet, it just worked. So much so that Mork spun off as a hit show, and Williams became a star. Those who knew him said he was so crazy in part because he was so coked. He was rewriting the rules of improv, or burning the book of rules. He could improv circles around the best comics in LA with a wit and a mind that worked at light speed. But his friends say he seemed unaware of his success. Crazy was no act, the racing mind of a wild man was the real deal. But even early on there was a dark undertone. While Williams was cracking us up, there was a sense that he was too far over the top, a bit too outrageous, a bit too “full goose bozo”.
But then he was making films. Some of the funniest films ever. The Word According to Garp was perfect for Williams. Strange, and seemingly based on Williams’ stand up characters. He proved he could hold his own in dramatic acting with Good Will Hunting, a film that earned him a best supporting actor Oscar.
His memorable movies include Good Morning, Vietnam, Dead Poets Society, Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage. In 2002 Williams stunned his fans with his dark roll in One Hour Photo. Williams wanted to play these dark rolls, it seemed he needed to work something out with some demons. The dark side came out brilliantly in The Fisher King, and Good Will Hunting and even a disturbing role on Law and Order SVU.
Williams was in his element when improving. He’s mentor friend and only improv equal was Jonathan Winters. Williams credited Winters' improv style and quirky characters as the inspiration for his comedy. In a great comedic twist Winters was cast as Williams' son on Mork & Mindy. When Winters died last year Williams tweeted that Winters was his "Comedy Buddha." No doubt the loss of Winters empowered some of the darker demons.
Williams had problems with drugs and depression. He had gone to rehab twice. And it seemed rehab brought out the demons. And now it seems the demons won, and we have all lost. It’s so hard to understand how comedy can have a dark side, a very dark side. But for those who really know funny, they understand that often funny is a defense, a way to keep the demons at bay. So it seems that the dark currents run very deep in some of the people we would least expect to not be the happiest people on earth, even if they seem to not be from earth at all.
Miss you already Robin.
Read about director and writer, Stanley Dyrector's, chance meeting with a much younger, Robin Williams here.