I am not much enamored with Hollywood these days. I don’t read any of the magazines or watch any of the shows that expose the minute details of the lives of our celebrities. So why was it that I unsuccessfully fought back tears when I heard of Robin Williams death?
It was so long ago that I cannot remember the exact date. I sat waiting in anticipation of my chance to perform at the Comedy Store in LA.
This was the place where dozens of comedians had been discovered and television careers had been launched, It was amateur night and this was my chance.
I could hardly wait for my few minutes on stage. Suddenly there was a commotion in the room – whispers – heads turning toward the back door. Out of the shadows stepped Robin Williams with a small entourage of other comedians.
It is a tradition in these places that the famous are invited to perform anytime they show up, and so it was with Robin. Within minutes he bounded to the stage and proceeded to… well… be Robin Williams.
When he finished my ribs ached, my nose was running, and I was spellbound by the natural improvisation and freestyle nature of his comedy. Robin had not yet reached the pinnacle of his career, but no one in the room doubted that this was a gifted and very funny man.
It was after several other amateurs and near closing time when I got to do my set. I figured it was better to follow Robin Williams than to be the poor guy on stage when he walked in.
Diane and I were headed for the door when we passed Robin and his friends. I said nothing but by chance Robin looked up as our group pressed toward the exit. His face brightened, “Helloooo” he shouted in a voice that would later be recognized as that of Mrs. Doubtfire.
Although I wanted to believe he was talking directly to me, I know it was simply a kind acknowledgment to the group of us, amateurs, who had tried to experience our own moment of fame that night.
You might say Robin Williams had me at Hellooooo!
My guess is that later in life, Robin played Mrs. Doubtfire so well because he had a heart like Mrs Doubtfire.
There was something very vulnerable and real about Robin’s comedy and acting – something missing in many of the young stars today.
He was unpredictable, unpretentious, and genuinely funny. His material was often peppered with profanity, but just as often he could cripple an audience with laughter without a single curse word.
Part of his amazing talent was that he didn’t need it. It was his concepts, his originality and the manic nature of his persona that did it. Robin Williams’ act was the definition of ADHD.
I wept on the news of his death.
As I look back, I wish I had responded to Robin’s “Hellooo.” I wish I had thanked him for the joy he brought to me that evening.
I wept because I have also suffered through depression and know a little of the pain Robin must have felt. My heart breaks for anyone who has to endure it. In “Fully Alive” I wrote about living in the “Valley of the shadow of death.” I am eternally grateful for being delivered from that valley.
I wish you could have made it though, Robin. In grief for you and your family, I wept today.
If any of you who read this post are suffering with depression, I pray you will know that there is hope. Know that you are loved. We need you. Know that in Christ there is hope.
No special words I will say can make you see that hope, but please don’t give up. I can testify to the fact that it won’t rain always. Please give the Son a chance to shine in your life.
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