The Genius of Robin Williams

robin williams

I heard a story about Robin Williams walking into the casting office for a TV show and when the casting director was ready for him to start reading the scene, he stood on his head and did the scene upside-down.  If nothing else, those casting directors would never forget a guy who did something so off-beat, so different, so genius. As it turns out, that TV show was Mork and Mindy. And the world of entertainment was never the same.

If you’ve ever seen Robin Williams do standup comedy you will be familiar with the mile-a-minute comedic insights that spewed from his intensely genius mind. And the endlessly entertaining physical comedy that accompanied it. They weren’t just jokes. They were social comments on the state of the world we exist in, wrapped up in comedy.

Harold Clurman once said, “The truth is like castor oil. It’s difficult to take and hard to swallow, so we get them to laugh and while their mouths are open, we pour a little in.” It seems that Mr. Williams embodied that sentiment.  His career spanned decades and his characters rode the spectrum from comedic genius to heartfelt and touching performances that will forever be part of our lives.

Dead Poets Society is, in my mind, one of the most incredible films of our time. Beautifully executed, and with a message that art and poetry and the appreciation of a deeper culture than the text-generation we find ourselves in today, is not only needed but desperately so.  Ironically, the lead character in that film took his own life, overcome by his inner demons, which was exactly the way we lost Mr. Williams.

And while lament and sadness would be the obvious reaction to such a loss, this poem written by master impressionist, Jim Meskimen in celebration of Robin Williams says it best:

“In Memory Of Robin Williams
by Jim Meskimen

They didn’t burn all the pianos

When Fredrick Chopin died

Didn’t outlaw oil paints

when Picasso took his final ride

No one put a stop to baseball

When Mickey Mantle’s time was up

Or banned all Russian novels

When Tolstoy went belly up

On Shakespeare’s death, nobody said

“Now hath arrived the day –

From this point hence let none dare

Put forth pen to write a play!”

We celebrate what’s left

By the departed, it’s our choice

Yet it does seem sacrilegious

To do Robin Williams’ voice

A voice that was designed to soothe,

Soft, deep tones that resonate

And cascade gently outward

From behind a smiling face

A voice that could accelerate

To catch up with the mind

Like shifting into overdrive

To not get left behind

A voice that could change character

Like seconds on a clock

Or hijack nationalities

For a spin around the block

Shift age, shift viewpoint, shift I.Q.,

Whatever’s not nailed down

Destroy, rebuild, destroy again,

A formidable clown

We’ll hear this voice in future times

In reruns on TV,

It will occupy the world wide web

Live on, digitally

We’ll hear its echoes come

From other mouths and other lips

In tributes and homages, and,

Like psychedelic trips

We’ll think the owner’s back again

With his familiar sound

But they’ll all be imitations –

Just an audible rebound

New jokes aren’t in the pipeline now,

Not that the well went dry –

But the jester who possessed this voice

Just chose to say goodbye

With the wealth of joy he left us

We should probably rejoice

But it’s hard to grasp we lost the guy

Who used to have this voice.

 

By Mike Falkow.

Mike Falkow is an actor, writer, artist and designer.

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