Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

Robin Williams died yesterday.  A stocker told me.  I sat down to drink a bottle of water, and thumbed my way through the Twitter, hoping a lot more than I'd have thought that it was a twitter hoax.

A conversation at work among several folks had us trying to create a consensus around several actors and actresses in the broad term of whether or not they were funny.  We said we needed a chart.  There was debate, and many of us came away appalled at the opinions of others.  Benjamin made himself a pariah by stating he was not a fan of Bill Murray's.  A name that didn't bring as much debate as I'd have thought was Robin Williams.

Personally?  I had mixed feelings. I thought he could be a camera hog, and that his volume came from the school where loud = funny, but ultimately I liked him.  I especially liked the silly.  But I also appreciated the dark place his humor came from.

Shyam and I talked about it Sunday night.  In recent months, I've wandered across Death to Smoochy and Insomnia.  I enjoyed both, especially the latter.  I considered both a small attempt at Robin to look into that dark place that his humor came from.

I also caught Jack on tv one afternoon after getting off from work.  It's not a great movie, but I always enjoy watching Bill Cosby ham it up.  I could also note that the flick was the genesis of a crush I carried for Jennifer Lopez for a time.  I was especially struck at what a perfect role it seemed to be for Robin Williams.  A guy who, at 40+, still had the ability...or the need...to play, to be silly.

It's not a great movie.  Flawed in many ways.  If you haven't seen it, Robin plays the titular character as a 10-year-old whose aging process is sped up.  10-year-old mind in a 40-year-old body.  IMDB lists Tom Hanks as the first choice to play the part, but I gotta say that Robin seemed to be the embodiment of that spoken ideal.

I hadn't seen the movie in years...maybe since it came out for rental in 1996 or 1997.  I watched, and was struck by the school scenes.  By Jack walking alone on the playground.  

I think my favorite scene was Bill Cosby, as Jack's tutor, trying to keep Jack's attention, as he is distracted by the boys his own age.  Jack wanting to fit in, and reaching out in the only way he knew how...by being weird.

I hated to hear about Robin's death, especially since it's reported he's taken his own life.  Given that Shyam's and my conversation about the dark place his humor came from came the night before.  It resonated as I sat in the office at work.

I didn't think it'd feel like a punch to the sternum.  But it did.

Thanks, Robin.  Thanks for the silly.

I wish it had gone down differently.

I would like to share this, from Rob Delaney, who is also silly (but quite correct in this) right here:  On Depression and Getting Help

A few favorites....mostly for the silly:

(I still love Baron Munchausen, which I watched a month or so ago as part of my Big Stupid project....it was another flick perfectly suited to Williams.  Everybody is in a scenery chewing contest in that movie.  Loud, colorful.  Perfect for Robin....)


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