Monday, 11 August 2014
I still remember him coming out of nowhere in the 70s, relentless and unhinged like a roller coaster on cocaine, literally in his case. Like the indefatigable Groucho Marx before him, it seemed there was nothing he couldn't turn into a (really funny) joke.
After and during years of standup, he premiered on the big screen in 1980's Popeye (still one of my faves, critics be damned), then spent subsequent decades killing in comedies like Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Cadillac Man, Aladin, Hook, Jumanji, Death to Smoochy, The Birdcage, Night At The Museum, and Happy Feet, as well as on TV's Friends, Whose Line Is It Anyway and the hugely successful Comic Relief with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg.
But there were times he didn't make us laugh. Many, in fact. Even some of his most hilarious comedies provoked as many philosophical reflections, tears and group hugs as they did chuckles. The World According to Garp comes to mind, as do Moscow on the Hudson, Dead Poets Society, Good Morning Vietnam, The Fisher King, Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, and my hands-down favourite, Good Will Hunting, for which he won his only (and much-deserved) Oscar.
Then there were those downright unfunny, dramatic turns in films like Awakenings, What Dreams May Come, Jakob The Liar, Insomnia, and the terrifying One Hour Photo. Who knew he could give a guided tour through heaven and hell as easily as he could nail a good fart joke?
It's hard to say goodbye to someone you grew up with, who meant that much to you without even realizing it sometimes. To me, he was as much a de facto uncle as he was The Comedian or The Actor Robin Williams. An uncle who kept me in stitches, who inspired me to be the best version of myself, who struggled with addiction and depression but who always managed to keep one step ahead of his demons.
Love you, Robin.