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Jewesses with Attitude

More than a Genie: A Comic Remembers Robin Williams

I am not going to lie, this one has hit me pretty hard. As a comedian who grew up watching Mork and Mindy and left for college the same time he yelled out “Carpe Diem,” today I am mourning the loss of a man I never knew. I just cannot seem to figure out how he knew me so very well.

All over the web there are so many amazing accounts of compassion and sincerity shown by the late comic genius Robin Williams. So many stories of times he brought love and laughter to everyone from struggling young comedians to the armed forces to one of his best friends who just fell off a horse and broke his neck. He touched so many with a light it was if he had a wand. It was not just laughter either; his dramatic performances were equally illuminating. I often wondered how he did it—how did he turn that quick moving brain of his off in order to lose himself in a character? When he did his standup, how did he even know when to end his show? I wanted to learn everything I could about him.

I am eternally grateful to my parents for allowing me to go see him live when I was only in 10th grade: my very first comedy concert. I had amazing seats and a friend who could drive and I was in heaven. His energy was infectious and he never once made the audience feel like they were interchangeable with the crowd he would see the next night of his tour. He soaked us in. And speaking of soaked, he really was soaked—that man could sweat. I felt his overwhelming gratitude throughout the show, and that made an enormous impression on me as I moved forward in performing my own material.

I find great humor in irony, and Robin Williams was masterful at pointing out the most ironic elements in a story. For example, when Mel Gibson was arrested and his anti-Semitic diatribe became a media circus, Robin gave an interview and noted, “It’s not just that he said those things, it’s that he found the one Jewish state trooper in the world!” When our government stated they could not find Bin Laden, Robin retorted “But he’s a 70-year-old 6 foot 7 man roaming the desert on dialysis?” I think back to these moments, and I smile.

I am overwhelmed today by the ways his humor has influenced the way I see the world and use my own humor. I am delighted by the amount of stories being shared that demonstrate what a mensch he was to those who knew him. And I am helpless to realize that one can truly never know how much pain someone is in and how they will cope with that pain. Today I wish to celebrate his biggest lesson to me—his gratitude. Thank you Robin for the laughs so powerful that made me cry, for the poignant stories behind the characters you brought to life, and for the reminder to be grateful for an audience that laughs along with me. I really feel that you were much more than a genie. You were a real magic wand. 

Robin Williams
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Robin Williams

How to cite this page

Short, Shari. "More than a Genie: A Comic Remembers Robin Williams ." 12 August 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on November 27, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/more-than-genie-comic-remembers-robin-williams>.

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RT @FigTreeBks: Mazal tov to the latest group of Rising Voices Fellows. Looking forward to reading your work. http://t.co/ItBXWYXumt