I know there’s already been a huge outpouring of love and mourning for Robin Williams on the internet and Twitter tonight, and there’ll probably be plenty more in the coming days, but I felt like sharing a few thoughts nonetheless. Mainly, because despite never really acknowledging Robin Williams as someone that I have a ton of appreciation or admiration for, this loss has been hitting me in a deeper place than I would’ve expected. I think this has to do with the fact that because I grew up in the era when Robin Williams was doing kids movies (as well as more serious adult fare), he has been an omnipresent force in mine and people my age’s lives since from about as early as I can remember. I mean, sure, as a comedy fan there’ve been times when I’ve taken issue with the fact that people who don’t know anything about comedy seem to think that Robin Williams is the pinnacle of comedic genius. But the thing is, Robin Williams was probably the first person to ever give me the impression of what a so-called “comedian” is, and the fact that Williams was ultimately bigger than comedy itself speaks magnitudes towards the man’s talent.
Also, despite Robin Williams’ persona as a motor-mouthed, joke-a-minute schtickmeister as a stand-up, it is kind of remarkable how subtle the dude could be in so many of his film roles. And it’s not just that he could be near-comatose in one role and relentlessly comedic in another, but that he could find so many multi-faceted ways of going between 1 and 10 on the Robin-O-Meter. Hell, it’s almost a cliche at this point — the idea of a comic actor who wants to be taken seriously, so he starts taking roles in overly serious dramas. But I think the main reason this cliche exists is because Robin Williams was able to find so many different areas between the light and the dark, and do it so effortlessly.
Now, it’s no secret that the darkness is often what drives a lot of comedians to gain acceptance from the world through their comedy, and perhaps that darkness just became a bit too overwhelming, since at this point Williams’ death has been ruled a suicide. But all I can say for certain is that there are few entertainers that were able to radiate joy the way Robin Williams did, and hopefully we here at Mildly Pleased will be able to put together some sort of podcast-oriented tribute in the next week or so.