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Why I miss Robin Williams: He and I were perfect for each other

Published on Aug 12, 2014 4:26 PM
 
A cinema still from Dead Poets Society starring Robin Williams. -- PHOTO: TOUCHSTONE PICTURES

In the beginning, there were the laughs.

At the end, you remember those guffaws, and mind you, with this fella, you don't just laugh, you guffawed or basically laughed until your sides ache.

In between, there was the darkness which remained hidden.

What were the demons which plagued Robin Williams that were so severe and so unmanageable that he had to apparently end his own life?

Every report is talking about how he's been battling severe depression.

Severe depression?

This is Robin Williams, one of the funniest, if not the funniest, comedians in the world.

This is Robin Williams, who, decades after his break-out TV sitcom Mork & Mindy (1978 to 1982), was still so busy and prolific he had four films coming out after this tragic news.

Including his role as the indefatigable, eternally optimistic President Theodore Roosevelt in the third Night At The Museum movie.

Man, those actual nights at our museums which I visit and sometimes imagine hearing a "C'mon, boy" said from an unseen Williams to Ben Stiller playing the museum guard, will seem so lonesome now.

This is Robin Williams, who, as the heartwarming story goes, dressed up as a wacky doctor and cheered up his paralysed friend - the late Christopher Reeve, lying on a hospital bed after his terrible horse-riding accident in 1995 - so much as to make the latter not give up hope then but to continue living.

This, in other words, is Robin Williams, the man who saved Superman.

And now, this is Robin Williams dead?

I am shocked, I am numb, I am confused, and I am very, very incredibly sad.

They say a clown paints a sad face on the outside to cover up a sadder truth on the inside.

They say comedians are actors struggling with the reality they tell as jokes.

They say many things, but that won't stop a privately-stored, relentlessly-consuming pain.

Robin Williams the funnyman, though, as far as I know from watching his many LOL performances, never painted a sad face.

He was nominated for an Academy Award three times for dramatic roles - after Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Fisher King (1991), he finally nailed a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for 1997's Good Will Hunting - and he even played a sick creepo-stalker in One Hour Photo (2002).

But as a comic, he was always exuberant, always ebullient, always irrepressible and always the life of the party, even in a piece-of-c**p thingy (he's covered in c**p in one scene as a frustrated guy driving a family motor-home) like 2006's RV.

This was what I wrote the last time I commented on his brand of comedy.

In a review of The Crazy Ones, his recent axed sitcom on TV with Sarah Michelle Geller, I said of the man in the show - "That quick rapid-fire spurt of jokes, voice impersonations and cartoonish chatter suggest a demented hyperactive lobe somewhere which might require severe excising."

Severe excising?

No, not like this.

If you dig his shtick, his madcap style of humour, his frenetic 63-year-old energy, his inability to sit down and just shut the heck up, chances are, in your next life, you'd be very happy as a rag spinning crazily in a washing machine.

See?

Follow the master too long, and you'd be spitting out instant two-cent quips like him.

But in possession of such two-cent quickies, Williams was a bona-fide billionaire.

Suddenly, everybody has a favourite RW moment, quote or gag from his films, TV shows, stand-up routine, guest appearances, live shows, maybe even from their hallucinations.

Many tweeted "O' Captain, My Captain" from Dead Poets Society and remembered his call to "carpe diem" (seize the day).

Others remembered him as Mrs Doubtfire, the ultimate housekeeper-in-drag who up to now, Jack Neo, I believe, secretly worships.

To this day, I'm still re-using one of his lines from his classic 1987 war-comedy, Good Morning, Vietnam, where as an American airman-radio DJ in Saigon, he asked a food seller on the street what he was eating.

"Fishballs," he was told.

"Never knew fish had them," he replied.

I tell you, you don't know how popular this joke is with chicks whenever I'm eating meepok tah.

People recall Mork the alien, the boy-man trapped in a board game in Jumanji (1995), the hilarious voice of the genie in the 1992 Disney cartoon, Aladdin, and maybe one person somewhere might remember the robot in 1999's sci-fi Bicentennial Man which began life first as a metal man and then transformed over a period of 200 years into the very likeness of Williams.

You know, I love making this joke - if you have 200 years to change yourself into somebody, why would you want to look like Robin Williams?

Never imagining that I'd want everybody to look like him now, I'll never say this joke again.

On hindsight, was that screen persona of him we saw a prism of distortion or a prison of anguish?

I don't and won't know.

"You're not perfect, sport. And let me save you the suspense. This girl you met, she isn't perfect either," Williams, the college professor, tells Matt Damon, the genius-savant, in Good Will Hunting.

"But the question is whether or not you're perfect for each other."

I know this though - Robin Williams and I were perfect for each other.

He made jokes, and I laughed.

He's gone, and I'm crying.

Nanu nanu, my Captain.

You were amazing.