Monday, August 11, 2014

R.I.P. Robin Williams

I don't care about meeting a lot of famous people. But Robin Williams was an exception. I wanted to meet him, to probe that unbelievably agile mind — and yeah, maybe to share a laugh, just the two of us. That would have been a heck of a memory to have.

That's not gonna happen. Williams died today at age 63. The cause of death is suspected to be "suicide due to asphyxia", which sounds like "he hanged himself".

Having escaped the fate of his friend John Belushi, it seems unjust for Williams to have taken his own life. Yet of course, none of us knows what was going on in his head. I can't help wondering if he thought his best days were behind him, something that occurred to me when I saw the ads for his 2006 film RV.

Is the price of a lightning-fast, incredibly facile, improvisationally gifted mind a corresponding abyss of personal darkness? Maybe.

Is that darkness too high a price? Maybe. Williams' family and friends probably think so right now.

As a final thought, my favorite Robin Williams performance wasn't in a movie or on a comedy club stage. It was his appearance on Inside the Actor's Studio. I think James Lipton asked fewer than a dozen questions in the broadcast episode, yet Williams made close to two hours of often hysterically funny performance art out of them (and if memory serves, those two hours were edited from five or six hours of actual time on stage).

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