Having grown up in the last third of the 20th century, my first memories of Robin Williams probably look like those of my peers: Red, silver-trimmed jumpsuit. Rainbow suspenders. “Nanu Nanu.”
They are fond memories.
It’s no wonder weird, shticky kids who felt like they were from outer space identified with Mork from Ork: a fully-grown weird, shticky kid from outer space. Every person, object and situation was fodder for jokes and play. He was an outsider who had found a safe place among beings who, while they didn’t understand him, accepted and loved him.
Yeah, I had the suspenders.
I wasn’t too aware of his stand up beyond Comic Relief and stuff he did on talk shows. My next memories of him are as a for-real movie star with mass appeal. Comedy, drama, cartoons. Low brow, high brow. Warm. Sad. Creepy. He could do it and do it well.
I have to admit, I had cooled on him quite a bit in recent years. As someone who tries to do comedy and improv, rumors of bit-stealing and descriptions of how he’d rail-road people in improv scenes did not raise him in my esteem. Having had the exhausting experience of being around people who are always “on”, the frantic pace of his performance-style seemed too needy.
Listening to Marc Maron’s great WTF interview with Williams took some of the edge off of that, but after that I didn’t really give him much thought in recent days.
It’s been moving seeing how so many people from so many walks of life, people who might not agree on much, have all been affected by his death. How many hours have families spent with him in their living rooms over the years?
And taking the time to listen to the people who knew him well or had brief encounters with him, there are things which seem to ring true: he was a giving man. An often quiet, sad and distant man, yes, but his generosity seems to shine through all that in these stories.
Looking through that lens, the manic character-salad he was known for doesn’t seem like an act of taking, but an act of giving, of pouring oneself out.
And that’s beautiful.
Our cat, Oreo, meets the Songify App.
Here’s the latest from Owl Brothers Studio: “Good Cop.”
I wrote this with Trevor Britton, and he directed it.
Here’s an updated episode listing (with links) for the “Jason Sims Puts You In Your Place" podcast, which was "a series of conversation with creative people about how the places in their lives effect them and their work."
For the foreseeable future, this is a complete list. I enjoyed doing it and appreciate all my guests, listeners and guest-hosts. I especially appreciate Dan Pritchard of Slice Radio for suggesting I do the thing, as well as for editing it and posting it every week.
They had some tough laws on the books back in the 1950s.