One of the first things my mama did was teach me how to laugh. She raised me on comedic genius, filtering my movie education through Gene Wilder, Richard Pryor, the Marx Brothers, Mel Brooks, Jerry Lewis, George Burns, Monty Python, so many more… and, of course, Robin Williams.
I mean, she told us stories about Robin Williams. The shit he got up to on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (shut up, we didn’t have YouTube in those days), or the oft-repeated scenario of how he proposed to his wife. We didn’t know the guy personally, but we grew up knowing he was funnier than a roomful of ferrets trippin’ balls.
Robin Williams made the world a funnier place.
So many of his movies were not funny. The man could and did star in some depressing feature films. And he never failed to move me, not as a raging-against-the-system English teacher, or an android trying to become human, or a dead man or a washed-up children’s show star, or a dude trapped in a board game. You get the picture. I’m sure quite a lot of you are drawing the same picture too.
Robin Williams had heart. He made us feel.
He was my favorite Genie, and the best Batty Koda, and a great grown-up Peter Pan and today is not the day to fuck with me on what a crap movie Hook is.
Robin Williams had demons. We all do, alright. He fought addiction; he fought depression. It is quite possible he lost that last battle and slipped away from this world the captain of his own ship.
Maybe there were some right words that would have prevented this from happening. We don’t know. But this funny, heartful man can perhaps throw light on one last, important life detail for all of us:
Depression kills. Reach out to your friends and family around you. Some of them might be struggling. Just be there. Maybe you’ll find the right words. It’s all we can do.
If you’re thinking about giving up or hurting yourself, maybe make a call or a text first?
Here’s a text-based crisis network for those who don’t do phones.
And a list of hotlines:
1-800-273-TALK (8255) USA
44 (0) 0800 58 58 58 UK
13 11 14 AUSTRALIA
0602 222 88 NETHERLANDS
(64) 03 353 1136 NEW ZEALAND
Pretty much every other hotline.