in the beginning was Cosby, then Pryor, and Carlin, and once i made it out of Smithville, there was Williams.
i’d avoided ‘mork and mindy’ like the plague, despite my deep-seated need to have a meaningful, religious experience between Pam Dawber’s thighs. i was aware of it, of course, it was at the time a cultural icon, but no matter how funny it was, i avoided it. therefore i was vaguely aware of Robin Williams.
i don’t remember how the album “Reality, What a Concept” was introduced to our group of friends at (All Concrete All Corpses Autumn Cottage) Austin College, but believe me, i played the shit out of that record, and even all these years later can remember vast chunks of it.
and then i knew who he was. fuck ‘mork’, this brilliant, improvisational genius was Robin Williams.
new recordings weren’t listened to so much as consumed, devoured. more comedians joined my personal comedic pantheon, and Williams held his own. Cosby faded, his clean and relatively safe comedy no longer suiting my tastes and the times, but even with Kinnison, Leary, and St. Hicks, Williams held on, not by his fingertips but by his manic, improvisational stream-of-hilarious-thought bits.
and let’s talk about the films… not the comedies, but the Good Stuff.
Moscow on the Hudson – a film i don’t own, for good reason. i think it’s brilliant but it tears me up emotionally to watch it.
Dead Poets Society – another film i can’t bear to watch too often
The Fisher King – and yet again, too radiantly painful
Good Will Hunting – so worthy of the Oscar he received
the roles that showed not his already amply-established comedic skills, but his incredible gift at portraying emotion and humanity so poignantly that they are exquisite holy tortures.
the two best tributes to Robin Williams’s effect upon me are the number of bits of his comedy i can easily remember, and the innumerable ways his comedy influenced me and flavored my own sense of humor.
the Disco Temple of Comedy… the Central Texas Home for the Terminally Twitchy… feel the similarity? when you read my work, if you look hard – and sometimes not all that hard – you’ll see this man’s comedic fingerprints.
we all face our own demons, and we fight hard, and we seek out help, or we go it alone, and it never really stops, but we make our way as best we can.
and sometimes the demons win.
Good-bye, Robin. tell Richard and George and Sam and Bill ‘hi’ for me.
listening to: “Shakespeare (A Meltdowner’s Nightmare) – Robin Williams, “Reality, What a Concept”