“So sad to hear about Robin Williams – It’s amazing how much laughter he could create on the outside with so much pain on the inside. One of the greats.” Those were the words from Bob Newhart, just one of the countless celebrities who reacted on twitter to the death of comic legend Robin Williams.
While Robin never played the Schottenstein Center or Nationwide Arena, he did perform at the Palace Theatre in Columbus on October 5, 2008. It was a show that a member of the Schottenstein Center staff will never forget.
“I remember his show was just filthy…just filthy! But I laughed so hard! His energy and pace was phenomenal. After the show, I will never forget how sweaty he was! He was in this big room with a lot of people. He was quiet, nice, and polite to everyone in the room. He even went out to alley outside the stage door and met with fans, posed for pictures and signed autographs.”
Many of the comics who have performed at the Schottenstein Center and Nationwide Arena were influenced by his genius including Will Ferrell, Zac Galifianakis (who critics have often called the ‘new Robin Williams’), Dane Cook, Drew Carey, Conan O’Brien, Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock.
Chris Rock in an interview with ABC News said: “Robin was, is, I hate to say was, is one of the funniest guys I ever saw in my life. I remember the first time I saw ‘Mork and Mindy.’ And I know this sounds weird, it was like watching, it was the first time I saw an actual human being be as funny as Bugs Bunny. You know what I mean? Like he wasn’t human in a sense. When they casted him as an alien it was perfect because he was so from another world. The first time I saw him perform was say, in the mid-80s you know ’88, ’87, something like that and you know he would just tear the roof off the place. Just one of the rare guys that matched the expectations of the audience you know. The audience expected him to be the funniest guy in the world and he lived up to it.”
Will Ferrell tweeted: “R.I.P. Robin Williams. Such a loss. He will be gone forever but not forgotten.”
It’s true, Williams’ prolific, diverse body of work will not allow him to be forgotten. He started as a stand-up comedian opening for more subdued comics like Tom Dreesen who said he admired him and loved watching him on stage, but dreaded following his act because of his intense energy. Most of us got to know him as that alien that appeared at the Cunningham’s front door as “Happy Days” was winding down and this admittedly bizarre and out-of-place character was introduced to lay the groundwork for a new Garry Marshall sitcom. Let’s be honest, the concept was dumb especially on “Happy Days,” but in his own sitcom teamed with his idol Jonathan Winters, another spontaneous stream-of-consciousness comic, it was pure magic.
His outrageous ad-libbed humor on stage and on “Mork and Mindy” was so much his trademark, moviegoers were stunned when he progressed to movies with some very serious roles in which he was equally brilliant. He subsequently was nominated for three Academy Awards and won for “Good Will Hunting.” He even took to the Broadway stage to great reviews. He became one of the few performers ever to win an Emmy, Grammy and an Oscar.
By the time the late night talk shows aired Monday night (8/11), the news of his death was well-known. The shows had been taped late afternoon about the time the shocking news had hit the news and social media. Watching hours later, there was oddly no mention of Robin’s passing from any of the hosts who clearly admired him so much. Conan O’Brien was the only exception as he received word from his staff just minutes before they signed off.
He was admired so much by Johnny Carson that he asked Robin to be one of his final guests as host of ‘The Tonight Show.” His genius shines in this clip from May of 1992.
Robin Williams leaves a legacy unmatched by anyone, and was truly one-of-a-kind. R.I.P. Robin Williams.