Robin Williams was a bombastic man, full of energy and voices. He also had a sadness in him, a depression that unfortunately resulted in him taking his own life. I noticed it years ago in his eyes during his more solemn performances. I would joke about his more serious performances and the drastic differences between clean shaven comic Williams and bearded somber Williams. Looking back, it’s a little eerie. Comedians tend to have a dark side to them. It’s the flip side of making us laugh and bringing us joy.
You might not be the biggest fan of Robin Williams, but you can’t deny his talent. I’ve rolled my eyes at him before, but there have been a few things over the years that changed my opinion on Robin Williams and made me appreciate the man.
Williams’ appearance on Louie was my first substantial taste of Louis C.K.’s brilliant show. It’s dark, bleak humor that may be difficult to watch so soon after his death. It’s about death and the absurdities of life and loneliness and mortality. It’s great work where Williams and C.K. play perfectly off of each other. Williams has a reflective, haunting look in his eyes for most of the bit. That look is only broken once the two men realize just how weird this short journey has been.
The other piece of Robin Williams media to check out is his appearance on Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast. If you’re unfamiliar with WTF, Maron is able get almost every guest to open up and have fascinating, enlightening conversations on their lives and career. Williams has some great stories about his early days in the podcast, but the real meat comes near the end when he discusses his heart surgery and mortality. He still uses some funny voices while discussing it, but you can hear the vulnerability in his voice. It gives you a peek at who the man was behind the performer.
Depression isn’t easy. It’s not something you can just magically “get over”. Please, seek out help if you’re suffering. You might feel alone, but you’re not.
Rest in peace, Robin Williams.