There isn’t another comedian out there quite like Robin Williams. He told jokes faster than Usain Bolt can run, with each punchline coming quicker by the passing second. He was a master impersonator, a sharp comedian, and a unique personality.
Williams was found dead on Monday in an apparent suicide. It was no secret Williams had issues with alcoholism and depression; he went to rehab earlier this summer and talked about his problems earnestly on stage. But his death came as a complete shock for me. I grew up watching Williams, from Robert Altman’s Popeye to Mrs. Doubtfire. Williams’ exuberant personality made him not only a comic icon but a comforter of the masses. As the radio DJ in Good Morning, Vietnam, he helped relieve soldiers from the horrors of the Vietnam war. In Good Will Hunting, Williams’ therapist helped Matt Damon’s struggling and uncovered genius realize his full potential.
Often times, Williams’ sentimental streak came off heavy-handed and cloying in pictures like Dead Poets Society, Jakob the Liar, and, most notoriously, Patch Adams (my review caused one commenter to call me “an angry, pompous, close minded idiot, that is just one of the masses who wants to feel important, all at the expense of others”). But even still it’s difficult to deny how personal and heartfelt Williams was. May he rest in peace.