A Remembrance of Robin Williams
I knew Robin Williams mostly in the early days – before and during his rapid ascent to super-stardom. I improvised with Robin on stage, and acted with him and directed him in “Mork and Mindy. He had as finely tuned “improv antennae” as anyone I’ve ever worked/played with.
Playing with Robin back in the day was, of course, a joy. Hanging out with him happened in two ways – one was when Robin was resting, i.e. sitting quietly on set, as if in some open-eyed meditative state. You knew to totally respect his space because he was saving his prodigious energy resources for when the audience showed up.
When you were invited into that space, what fun! Conversations with Robin were far ranging, fast, and thoughtful. Anything that was said or done, words, gestures, ticks or twitches from any random interchange, he would absorb. Robin could intake snatches of dialogue, quirks, characters, filter them through his genius level comedy apparatus, and then, sometimes days later, deliver them back to you (and/or an adoring audience), mashed-up in the funniest way possible. This was Robin’s gift — wired to make connections that create uniquely explosive comedy.
Oh, one other thing. With the camera rolling, whenever Robin would do a take that he didn’t like, he would grab his balls so they couldn’t use that shot in the show.