SEND IN THE CLOWNS: Remembering Robin Williams (1951-2014)

On the one-year anniversary of this singular comedic mind’s passing, I revisited the piece I wrote about Robin for “RPM: Life In Analog” in the dead of night and into the wee hours of the morning. His death shook me in ways I can’t quite reconcile with the fact that I wasn’t a super fan or ardent follower of Williams’s work (too many family-friendly romps and treacly rom-coms in his catalog). But there was always such verve and vitality, such unpredictable, manic energy to the man, that the world suddenly seemed quieter, and sadder, without him in it. A year on, it remains a piece that I’m truly glad I had the presence of mind and desire to write, as a kind of reflex, a kind of coping mechanism upon hearing the terrible news that a brilliant, beaming light had gone out.

RPM: Jonathan Perry's Life in Analog

Robin-Williams-robin-williams-23183318-1600-1200For decades, Robin Williams made me laugh. Monday night, he made me cry. Like many, I found myself suddenly paralyzed and weeping at the terrible news that Williams had passed by his own hand at the age of 63. And not just because he was a famous and familiar person (actually, in spite of those trappings of wealth and celebrity). It is because he was an imperfect soul, like most of us, who struggled and suffered and fought unseen battles with private demons that no amount of applause or money could conquer.  And I wept because he brought such a rich, empathetic humanity to everything he did, every role he played, every improvisational comedic riff of genius he unleashed on the screen, big or small.

Like all of my favorite comedians (a long line that includes, in no particular order, George Carlin, Richard Pryor, Bill Murray, Christopher Guest, Jerry Seinfeld, Larry David, Ricky Gervais, Roseanne, Garry Shandling, Chris Elliott, and most recently, Louis…

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