Robin had Me at Hello

robinI 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 alwaysPlease give the Son a chance to shine in your life.  

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42 thoughts on “Robin had Me at Hello

  1. Thx ken…from so. Colo by the great sand dunes. It’s strange..waking up to see robin’s face in another blurb about his magnificant heart or life as “the real deal”…all I know is I keep starting to cry again at the loss of him. All I know is… God can b funny in his lessons for us. Sometimes that’s the way to reach us. Robin did…u have when I’ve been in the dark places and began to see some light. I hope others will reach out of the “hard” place and find someone who can reach our inner place for some relief… even if for a moment of giggle…which is some relief. The Lord is here and can place some comic relief to the lows.. so we can step out and begin to heal… really. God bless all. Bunny

  2. Beautiful. I was also saddened by Robin’s death. One of the first movies I remember watching over and over again because I loved it was his first starring role; Popeye. Even though it was not his best film it is my favorite because I saw it as a child and to me Robin WAS Popeye. I can’t say I have ever dealt with deep depression but I have suffered from survivor’s guilt. I have been a Christian since childhood but it was hard to convince myself I still had a purpose when the idea that I should be dead filled my thoughts. I am glad to say with time I came out of it, though now and again it does reappear. When I read of Robin’s passing the first thing I thought was how I wished, as a fan, I could have told him just how much he meant to me and how much joy I have gotten from him over the years. Whether it was Mork, Popeye, a Genie, a DJ in Vietnam, an English nanny, a comedian on stage, or just a man giving an interview; he was so special and talented. I hope and pray that we will learn from this. Even though someone can bring joy to everyone around them they can also be suffering inside and we need to be aware of that. As they give to us we need to care for them. God Bless

  3. I keep choking back tears too… what makes me the saddest is that whatever Robin was going through right then, he believed that there was no reason or hope or something, and that he just didn’t want to go on. The source of so much joy to all of us.. but so very alone and lost that night. Depression can be physical, an imbalance in our system and can be corrected if that’s the case. It can be from so many things, but without a connection to God, the varied reasons for depression are way multiplied! I so wish too that I could have told him how very valuable he was and how very loved… not just by all his fans, but the Creator Himself and the One that gave him the gifts he had. I always sensed a sadness in Robin; even through all the joking, like he was never truly happy himself. What an amazing talent, wonderful father, inspiration and source of joy he was to all of us. I feel like I lost a really good friend.

    • Some one on TV said, that the kind of depression Robin was experiencing blind people to the fact that more pages can be written in their life. I was there once. So grateful that by God’s Grace I wrote more pages. Thx Marilynn

      • I’m VERY grateful too!!! You have inspired us so much, and I’m thankful God led you back out of that! I’ve felt hopeless myself at times, but knowing about God makes a HUGE difference. And thanks so much for Fully Alive! I’m having a hard time implementing some of that (doing day care and husband struggling to keep a steady job), but I sure want to be that way!!! I want to keep up with my 16 year old daughter a few more years (I’m 59 now!).

  4. I cried too, Ken. Am crying as I read this. Why? Because Robin didn’t seem to really know that he mattered. With all that talent and with all that he gave, he felt somehow empty and lost. We cry for ourselves because we have lost one of the greats. We cry for his family because they suffer in ways that many of us can’t imagine. We cry for Robin that he couldn’t find another way out. A way that would help him truly live.
    Today I am reminded once more to be an encourager. To bring a kind word to those whom I meet. To help them know they matter.

  5. Thank you Ken: a lovely tribute to this man’s life and honouring at the time of his sad death. I’m on the other side of the world, in Australia, and remember seeing him on TV as a kid and how much he made my brothers and I laugh. I wrote my own little dedication on my blog here: http://theleadershiplamplight.com/2014/08/13/a-tragic-comic-robin-williams-r-i-p/ if you feel like reading it. Undoubtedly, he positively affected millions with his humour and, from all reports, his personal generosity. He certainly had a great talent – one I look forward to viewing in person again some time 🙂 And, while I’m at it, I’m grateful for the ‘serious laughs’ you provide too. I think you had me at “Behold, Ken Davis haveth fun … NO!” Thank you for your service and your compassionate post.

  6. Thank you, Ken. I love how you make me and my family laugh and bring the Lord into it to encourage, inspire and direct us in Truth!

    I went through a period of depression and it was a very dark place. Many days I would ask God, “Please, don’t let me wake up tomorrow”, but I did. Thank you, Lord, I did! I understand, (to a degree), what it means to walk through ‘the valley of the shadow…’ . It’s a painful lonely place where I never want to go again! What’s so very difficult, is that people who love you don’t respond properly to what you are going through. Husbands/wives complicate things more by telling you to just get over it. If it werebonly that easy.
    I’m glad to say that I am no longer than and have seen the hand of God break through the darkness and draw me back into the light! Oh and how beautiful that that Light appears after that dreaded darkness! PRAISE OUR GREAT AND WONDERFUL GOD!
    I wish that I didn’t have the shame back then, but I have a testimony that will help me to have compassion and wisdom for others who may go through it.
    Thank You, Lord! Thank you, Ken!

  7. Been praying for you friend over the last couple of days, knowing the similar journeys both you and Mr. Williams have been on. I shared similar thoughts yesterday: Those closest to us need to know that we love them, we need them, and if they are hurting, we desperately want to help! Let’s band together as a Country, in our churches, our schools, our social services, our families, and in our relationships to do a better job of meeting the needs of the broken.

  8. Thank you for writing about Robin. I was finally able to cry for him and the lose of beautiful person. I am so thankful for Christ and what He has done and continues to do for me in my life, I wish Robin could have know our Jesus. Thank you again for sharing your time you had in passing with Robin.

  9. Great post, Ken!The day before Robin Williams’ death, The Christian Post aired my article titled, Comedians Cry Too! Amazing how God directs in just the right time.

  10. It was a sad day when we heard about Robin Williams. He has touched so many lives in so many different ways of all different generations.

  11. Beautiful! He was wonderful, and many people are going to miss him greatly. I too have walked through the “Valley of the shadow of death” and nearly didn’t make it out alive. My heart aches for Robin’s pain in the moments leading up to his death, and for his family members who must all go on without him while holding an acute awareness of the pain he was in. Depression is a nasty beast, but it can get better. It just does not feel like it in the deepest recesses of the pit.

  12. I have heard and read some unflattering comments about Robin Williams suicide. Some people just can’t grasp how debilitating depression can be. You however did not disappoint me. You sir are a class act.
    I have worked for quiet some time now to help fight the stigma associated with all forms of mental illness. Perhaps this tragedy will help start a dialogue among others who suffer and their families and friends.

  13. When I heard the news, I felt like I had lost a dear friend, because through his laughter, that is what he became to millions. Depression is a thief. It steals joy and light and commonsense and you are so right when you say how crippling it can be. Those who have walked that road and those who love those who walk the road know that “there but for the grace of God go I..” Someone posted this prayer from Patch Adams and I like to think when Robin did arrive at Heavens gate, this is what God said to him…

    A Clowns Prayer
    As I stumble through Life
    Help me create more laughter than tears
    dispense more cheer than gloom and dispair
    Never let me become so indifferent
    that I fail to see the wonder in the eyes of a child
    or the twinkle in the eyes of the aged
    Never let me forget my total effort is to cheer people
    make them happy and forget momentarily
    all the unpleasantness of life
    and in my final moment, may i hear You whisper
    when you made My people smile,
    You made Me smile.

  14. WOW! You hit the nail on the head as usual Ken … a chance meeting that made an impression on you for life, a little like when I was fortunate enough to get invited back stage to meet you in person (williamsport, PA), me and my hubby — and he didn’t want to hold my purse and take our picture together … so you said give it to me, you swung it over your shoulder and put your arm around my hubby .. .what a priceless pic that is 🙂 thank you for being such a genuine individual first of all and a wonderful stand up comic and a great Christian in the process. .. not an easy feat these days … I too have suffered with depression and dark times over the years … and yes those times still do wash over me … and it’s hard to see the “light” when you can only see darkness … such a sad place to be … poor Robin … it’s a shame that something didn’t touch him enough to keep him in the light and to keep going … we will never know his real reasons for doing this … and the media has to keep that in mind and just keep the good things about him going … the rememberances etc are wonderful to watch but oh so painful at the same time. Last night, they aired a clip of his and Superman/Christopher Reeve’s wonderful relationship … they knew each other as roommates at Julliard and he said in the interview clip that he thinks they got along so well because, he, Christiopher, never tried to be “like” Robin and joking etc all the time with him, he was just himself and was a willing ear and said that he and Robin had many long talks … no comedy just two guys sharing … what a touching relationship, he said that after his horse riding accident, Robin was the first person to come visit him in the hospital and he said it was a good thing he had a seatbelt on his wheelchair as he was laughing so hard that he would have fallen out of his wheelchair … how sad … their both gone from this world .. I posted a quote from his daughter Zelda on my Facebook page last night … so prophetic and profound … let me repost it here:

    A Post From Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda

    “You –you alone will have the stars as no one else has them – In one of
    the stars … I shall be living. In one of them … I shall be laughing.
    And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at
    the sky at night … You — only you, will have stars that can laugh.” –
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery, exerpt from “The Little Prince” — feeling sad.

  15. Amen, I too have been through the Valley of Death. I have emerged the other side but have been back to visit more than once. I just Thank God I am always allowed to leave again.

  16. Thank you Ken. Robin Williams was incredible. I am with you in wishing he could have found his way out of the fog we call depression. While I was in YFC in the New Orleans area, I dealt with so many students who attempted to take their lives because they felt no hope for the future. Thanks for your words of encouragement – that there is hope. That hope is in Christ and being vulnerable enough to allow His people to help.

    Ken you have positively impacted my life through your comedy and SCORRE conferences. Thank you!

  17. I was driving across Washington state when I heard the news. I pray he was able to find the peace and forgiveness in Jesus. I study psychology and have read that many who have what is considered to be creative genius traits also have a higher tendency and rates of depression and suicide. Not to dismiss or say that it is OK, By no means am I agreeing with suicide. I have also been in the stage of depression where you lose hope, I found my hope in Christ and woke up to how severe my depression was when I began to hear you, Ken on the radio in little bits on the Christian channel I listened to in the car. Then the real, true awakening when I saw you online speaking, “Fully Alive” at a convocation for Liberty University. It was then that I knew that I needed to make major changes in my life and now a year and a half later and still working on those changes. You gave me hope and reminded me where my hope comes from. Christ Jesus.

  18. That is so beautiful!! It is such a sad passing 🙁 I appreciate your
    post and you sharing your faith with us all! I have a lot of respect for
    you, and for Mr Williams. You are both inspirational people with SO
    much talent. …Praying for people suffering from this loss and who feel trapped by depression. Hope is in Jesus! 🙂

  19. I have found comedy is a rare thing to find these days. Comedy now is so full with anger and crude sexual images with bad language it’s not worth the laughs. I see a few seriously funny comics left and we are now left with one more. Robin wasn’t just funny, his serious roles where captivating an honest.
    As you wish you could’ve told Robin a thank you, I must take this chance to do the same with you. I have nearly all of your dvds and I love them all. Your messages has made me laugh so hard I have to pause the film to catch my breath. It has made me and a lot of my friends come out of some really hard times. You are one of the funniest 10 people alive and you honor God all the way while doing it.
    So for that I thank you. It’s sad your audience isn’t as large as it should be, everyone should see one of your bits, at least once. If Heaven does collect my tears than half of them are from the joy that you caused. Again, I thank you and keep it up.
    God bless, and may there be more laughter in this world.

  20. Reading this made me cry. Both my husband and my son suffer with depression among other things. Staying out of the pit and not sinking in the slough of despair with them is a daily challenge for me. Both have spent time on the mental health floor of the hospital. Both are on meds, counseling and doctor’s care. For some reason, the meds only seem to help for very short spurts and then they are down the tube again. It’s a roller coaster ride. Then a prominent person like Robin Williams kills themself and it’s hard for me to not be filled with anxiety over my two guys here. It’s been an ongoing exercise in trusting God’s sovereignty.

    Thank you so much for bringing joy to so many people! We need people like you in the world! I’ve seen you in person and love it when you mess up and try to fix it. Like when you said your daughter was dressed in white from her toes down on her wedding day! We still laugh about that one and your reaction when you realized what you said!

    Thanks for the joy and the fun!

    Marsha

    • Marsha, Our stories sound so much alike. I also have two guys dealing with depression and anxiety. And some days it seems like the agony of trying not to slip down into the pit with them is never ending. Thank you for sharing. I’ll be praying for you and for special “God moments” where He shows you He’s not forgotten you and your family.

      • Thanks for writing. While I’m sorry to hear that you also deal with this type of circumstance, it’s nice to know there are others who understand. We are not alone!!

  21. Thank you for your memory of Robin Williams. Thank you for your acknowledgement of depression. I know you hit the nail on the head that there are millions out there who have suffered at some point in their life with some form of depression. Mine lasted one year, almost to the date it started. What got me through that year was taking care of my first grandchild, watching a favorite cooking show with her every afternoon, music, prayer, quiet time in the Word, journaling and having a great support of friends. The morning I arose without the dark cloud enveloping me was a joyous day that I will not ever forget. I am still thinking about the death of Robin Williams, how tragic, sad…but praying for his family too.

  22. So well said, Ken. Thank you for sharing this story – and the encouragement to persevere. For those that find themselves in the “valley” (having been there myself) you are so right – there IS hope! For anyone who suffers – the truth is that we live in a fallen world and it’s just not as it “ought” to be. Bad things do happen and our brain chemistry doesn’t always work the way it should. That said, The One who can both heal and redeem us offers real hope. The road may not always be easy, but no matter how bad it gets He will not leave us, forsake us, or fail us. Thanks again for sharing, Ken!

  23. Thankyou, Ken, I watched you for the first time this morning…”Fully Alive” I haven’t been fully alive in such a long time. It is hard when you know better. I am 53 and I accepted Jesus when I was about 5. But life…is just so daily. I too feel so bad for Robin Williams and His family. I had a cousin who took his life a couple years ago. It is heartbreaking. I struggle off and on with depression and worthlessness. Your program encouraged me…I really need it right now. I am fighting with anger..I could give up easily. I have physical problems…here is a funny one for you, I took one of those tests on line that asks you to find out your REAL age, this was a couple years ago and it said my real age is 85! I will never do that again! Gee Whiz…with all my aches and falling apart..I feel 85 at 53. I have 14 grandkids, one of them is with Jesus, but I attest to what a blessing they are…they are certainly easier than kids!..(Why couldn’t we do Grandkids first?) Thankyou for your honesty, it is so refreshing, I can’t stand lies either, I am death on lying with my kids and grandkids….it is so gross. I can’t stand phoney controling people either. I tell my family all the time that there isn’t a normal one among us, and if there were I wouldn’t know what to do with them! Thankyou for your humor…and wisdom. I need it right now. God Bless you much!

  24. What a beautiful story about Robin Williams. How sad that he felt life was no longer worth living. I, too, have a friend that gets in deep depression at times and it is so sad to not know how to help her. I pray for her all the time.
    Thank you for the many times you have made me laugh. God bless you always.

  25. I watched you for the first time last night Ken, my wife and I laughed till we cried. Thank you for that. While not IN depression you could say that I am perched on the abyss looking in. Suffice it to say that I had a major, life altering cardiac event Aug. 6th and my prognosis is guarded at best. You helped me realize that I can still be “Fully Alive” even in these circumstances…Thank You! I also grieve for the loss of Mr. Williams, he was unique. Think of the joy of the lord when Robin came home…”Come son, sit and let us laugh together”.

  26. This was the most beautiful and real thing I have read of Robin. It was honest, innocent, and true, just how I always imagined his heart to be. I was taken aback that a man who made me laugh out loud for over 30 years was shattered inside. I don’t follow Hollyweird either, but like you, this loss has affected me deeply, on some levels…