Robin Williams: A Tribute

Denny Hope

(Guest blogger Denny Hope was born and raised in Reno, and attended North Valleys High School. Currently attending TMCC, Denny is pursuing degrees in English and Communications.)

I can’t remember the first time I saw Robin Williams on screen. He was present in various movies of my childhood: Hook (1991); Aladdin (1992); Mrs. Doubtfire (1993); Jumanji (1995); Jack (1996); Flubber (1997). I can recall that by the time the latter was released I not only knew who Robin Williams was, but I knew that he was special.

I was 5.

I don’t know how I came to recognize an actor as ‘great’ before I could spell the word recognize……or actor…..or great, but it happened. Maybe my parents pointed at the screen and told me he was important, or maybe it was his multiple Kids’ Choice Awards appearances; likely, it was both.

 Now I could go on to quantify and qualify Mr. Williams by listing his awards and his accomplishments, plugging them into a function and producing a score that’s easy to understand, but I won’t. (Mostly in fear of Mr. Keating ripping my words to pieces) Instead, I want to provide a perspective of someone who was born into a world where “Robin Williams the genius entertainer” had seemingly always existed.

Later, as I began to explore more and more comedy, I was exposed to more and more Robin Williams. Rightfully so, as the word comedy will forever be associated with Robin Williams, and vice versa. I saw his stand up for Comic Relief, and the time he guest starred on Whose Line Is It Anyway (it remains my favorite episode). When ‘improv’ was still a new word to me, I knew he was the best, with an unrelenting ability to make anyone on the planet laugh.

There came a time when I thought he couldn’t be a greater genius, and then I watched Good Will Hunting. I promptly watched all of his other roles, and discovered how he could take his manic, stream of consciousness improv, and focus it into a magnetic, dramatic performance. There’s a scene in Good Will Hunting, where Will is explaining how he has always been good at academics. He mentions Mozart and Beethoven, and how when it came to piano, they could always just play; they didn’t really have to learn, they could always just play.

When it comes to making people laugh, Robin Williams could always just play.

When it comes to lighting up a scene, Robin Williams could always just play.

Two days ago I knew I wanted to write something to honor him, and after taking a few days to gather my thoughts on writing about such a great human being, I kept coming back to one quote. During his appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, (which, let me tell you, is by FAR the best episode of the series—Williams performed for five hours, and a woman had to be taken away by ambulance after developing a hernia from laughing so hard) James Lipton asks Mr. Williams, “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?” To which Williams responds "There's seating at the front, the concert begins at five. It'll be Mozart, Elvis and one of your choosing… If heaven exists, to know that there's laughter, that would be a great thing, just to hear God go, 'Two Jews walk into a bar.'"

That’s how I’ll remember him: a man with an extraordinary talent, and limitless passion, with enough warmth in his smile to melt ice. His dynamic presence owns the room, the stage, and the screen. He is a battery of genius, providing energy to those around him, creating amazing performances. He is quick, in gestures, speech, and, most of all, wit. With a brilliance that knows no end, a genius comedian, a revered actor, multilingual, the list goes on…and on….and on…

Tonight I salute The King of Improv, the most likeable man to have ever lived…Mr. Robin Willams.

The world and I can’t thank you enough; you have made our lives, extraordinary.