Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Cut! That's a Wrap! Thank You, Robin WIlliams! - An Impromptu Tribute in Essay

Within my circle of influence, I was probably the first one to announce the passing of Robin Williams. I received a notification on my smart phone from the New York Times. I passed on the information to the first person I saw at work, a student of mine, and was a little taken aback by his surprised reaction. And then in comparison, I was then astonished by my lack of reaction. Quickly, news spread throughout the building, soon returning boomerang-like to me.

Now that I have had a couple days to think about it, I thought I would say my goodbyes to Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams was a impromptu, comedic genius. I doubt many will gainsay that statement. I remember the first time I heard about him. A friend had attended a comedy club. Several comics warmed up the crowd. My friend said they were good, but he couldn't wait to see the headliner. And then the headliner came out. The headliner did his nearly hour routine. And then he introduced the last warm-up comic, Robin Williams. The headliner admitted that after seeing Robin Williams, he knew better than to follow a better act. My friend couldn't stop gushing about this Robin Williams comic.

I managed to see his debut television performance in Happy Days at a friend's house. I was intrigued. But I can't speak to his time as Mork. I didn't have a television then. A few years later, I did purchase on VHS, Robin Williams: Live at the Met. I am sorry to report, I could probably quote nearly the entire tape. It was hard to miss him as he worked through his movie career. But my tastes changed. After leaving behind Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy, George Carlin, and many other comics because I disliked their need for course language, Robin Williams also passed out of my circle of entertainment. Bill Cosby had shown clean humor could be uproarious. I kept To Russell, My Brother, Whom I Slept With as a standard. Robin Williams had been clean at times, but obviously it was a strain. The last time I saw him perform, it was by pure happenstance; the juxtaposition of the extremely rare instance of late night television viewing and the shows scheduling Mr. Williams. In the show, Mr. William's ability to curtail his courser language deteriorated. His jokes and the laughter they generated were audibly overshadowed by the censor's beep. I sighed and turned off the television while he was still going strong. Anyone watching knew the words he was using. He hit most of the ones on Mr. Carlin's list even before I turned off the television after only a couple minutes.

When turning on entertainment, several of Mr. William's characters revolved around fighting the establishment in one way or another, most especially Mr. Keating from Dead Poet's Society. This is best exemplified by Mr. Fallon's, "Oh, Captain, My Captain." It was a touching tribute. Maybe it's just me and my version of irony, but it seems that the very establishment that provided Mr. Williams his voice and fortune, is the one that his character is seen fighting. And I wonder, how many people, seen all too easily from the external view as living in "quiet desperation" are, in fact, seizing the day in their own way. I am truly happy in my chemistry lab, which is only possible because of the establishment that requires standards in water quality and a means to ensure those standards are met using a lab funded by that same establishment. I know I will never rise to the level of genius in my field that Mr. Williams did in his. And I will forever attribute many hours of pleasure to his humor in the likes of his roll as the Genie. But please, Mr. Williams, forgive me. You have built a long-lasting legacy that I am grateful not to be a part of. I hear my children playing with Quail's new train set, a major find by MBWM on a buy/sell/trade site. I hear the humor in their play. And I am humbled to be a part of it. And when I am done with this entry, I will be going off to a tea party hosted by Jaguar. I hope you have similar memories, Mr. Williams.

Mr. Williams became a product of the opportunities he pursued. His success was a wonder to behold. He even pulled me in to a long unviewed episode of Law and Order: SVU, knowing his performance would be clean. I was grateful to be laughing again at the wit and skill of Mr. Williams.

Thank you, Mr. Williams. And may I close with my favorite joke at your expense:
Robin Williams: Proof that ADHD pays. And pays well.

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