I’ll apologize for the delay in posting, but this topic deserved to be mentioned. Also, I’ll warn you that I’ve linked to some material that might not be safe for work or you find it offensive. Deal with it.
This week I feel like I’ve lost a great friend – but I never even met the guy. As said by my friend Jon, “Look how much we invited him into our homes and believed that he really was the characters he played. He was so credible and real. He gave everything in every movie.”
I can’t agree with this more, and I feel that’s why a lot of us can share the sentiment of saying “I’ve lost a good friend this week.”
It almost makes me jealous of people like Lewis Black or Billy Crystal, that have gotten to work with what appeared to be a genuine funnyman and humanitarian.
Growing up, Robin Williams was a staple of my childhood entertainment. I can honestly say, I would look forward to previews for any new Robin Williams flick, especially if it were a comedy.
He is a generation based celebrity – meaning that most of you reading can’t help but say “yeah, I’ve seen that movie with Robin Williams.” I feel pity for the children of today that will grow up in a world without new material from Robin Williams.
And that’s the core of it for me. His material. Yes, he was a terrific actor and nailed these roles out of the park, but what I will always appreciate and remember the most (aside that one time on Whose Line is it Anyway?) is his stand up.
I can remember as a young child, maybe eight or nine years old, sneaking into the living room after my parents had gone to sleep and watching A Night at the Met. HBO seemed to air this special at least every other weekend. I would have to contain my laughter as to try and not wake my parents, but he was funny. And I didn’t even get half of the jokes! It was his delivery of the joke that was always great.
Years later I would catch a stand up special for HBO again. Robin Williams: Live on Broadway. This was what defined my love for comedy my senior year of high school.
I look back at the many memories I have that are affiliated with Robin Williams and think: Thank you, Robin. Thank you for making me smile when I was sad, and expressing emotion when I needed to see it expressed. It may not be cool as a guy to say this, but I can’t watch Patch Adams without crying – and not even at the proper moments to be sad. These grateful tears come from watching these sick children warm up to Williams’ character. It’s moving and beautiful.
But the real take away from his death is the fact that in his stand up, Williams’ talks about his struggles with addiction and depression. This goes back to 1986’s A Night at the Met and follows through to his more recent Weapons of Self Destruction.
Williams’ death leaves people stunned because they think how can someone so funny be depressed? I find people that ask that have no clue what depression means or what it’s about. Karen Carpenter famously sings “What I’ve got, they used to call the blues…” in The Carpenters hit Rainy Days and Mondays. Being “depressed” does not mean you’re sad and that you need someone to pat you on the back and say “cheer up, kid.”
It does not work like that.
Sure – it can help, even be reassuring having a friend to reach out and lean on, but most people I know, myself included, dealing with bouts of depression want nothing to do with other people.
It’s not about exiling our loved ones – it’s about the inner struggle of ourselves trying to conquer inner turmoil, and sometimes, there is just nothing you can do to help us.
Depression is a serious illness. People suffer. Some overcome, some succumb to the demons inside.
The truth of the matter is you can always call 1.800.273.8255 – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Even if it’s not you struggling – if you see a friend, a loved one in a dark place, these trained specialists can help you help your friend come around.
A sad quote from one of Williams’ last films:
Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems.
What I want to close with is that Williams inspired me during college to give an attempt at stand-up and improv comedy. I had a lot more fun with the latter. I’ve learned that I’ve got a great wit and that I can put a lot of subtle humor into my writing, so thank you, Robin Williams. Thank you for giving me the courage to put myself out there and reach my friends and say here is who I am, I struggle too, and that just because I’m happy on the outside, doesn’t mean I’m the same on the inside. Don’t be afraid to ask me how I really am feeling.
Best wishes to my friends and family reading this. And to you, the stranger that doesn’t know me – I love you. You are indeed loved.
…but if there’s love, dear. Those are the ties that bind. And you’ll have a family in your heart. Forever. All my love to you poppet. You’re going to be all right. Bye-bye.