Liberal Arts Blog — Robin Williams (1951–2014) — The Only Great Comedian I Ever Met (Sort of)

Liberal Arts Blog — Sunday is the Joy of Humor, Food, Travel, Practical Life Tips, and Miscellaneous Day

Today’s Topic: Robin Williams (1951–2014) — The Only Great Comedian I Ever Met (sort of)

A little after noon on a winter day many years ago I walked into the restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel across from the Public Garden in Boston and stopped in my tracks. Was that guy 30 feet away Robin Williams? Could it really be him? All doubt vanished when the guy seeing a child staring at him instead of ignoring the child or looking annoyed launched into one of his insane out-of-control acts to the absolute delight of the child and everyone else in the vicinity. And I thought to myself “That guy is cool. I like that guy. God, I wish I could do that.” And I realized, for the second time in my life, that no — all celebrities are not assholes. (The first time was when I was fourteen years old and a classmate called me at 9am on a Saturday morning in 1967 and asked if I wanted to meet Twiggy…but that’s a story for another day.) Today, let’s focus on that cosmic force called Robin Williams. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.


1. “Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?”

2. “Cricket is basically baseball on valium.”

3. “Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!”

NB: “Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t cope with drugs.”

GOOD MORNING, VIETNAM (1987) — Breakthrough Role, No script !!!!!!!!!

1. “The film is set in 1965 during the Vietnam War, with Williams playing the role of Adriam Cronauer a radio shock jock who keeps the troops entertained with comedy and sarcasm.”

2. “Williams was allowed to play the role without a script, improvising most of his lines. Over the microphone, he created voice impressions of people, including Walter Cronkite, Gomer Pyle, Elvis Presley, Mr. Ed, and Richard Nixon.”

3. “We just let the cameras roll”, said producer Mark Johnson, and Williams “managed to create something new for every single take.”

NB: To me the only other performer I can think of that took such extreme, childish delight in being absolutely silly is Danny Kaye.


1. If you have not seen Dead Poets Society (1989), well, you should. At the very least you should watch the link below to the climactic scene which has “inspired a generation” and become “part of popular culture.” The still above is from that scene in which his students stand on their desks in defiance of the principal who has just fired their most beloved teacher Mr. Keating, played by Williams. The first student says “O Captain! My Captain” — a reference to Walt Whitman’s heart-wrenching poem written in the wake of Lincoln’s assassination. Williams demonstrates that he can be a master of restraint as well as lunacy.

2. The ability of Williams to demonstrate pent up emotions is equally tangible in Goodwill Hunting for which he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. The film also won the award for Best Screenplay, written by Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and launched the careers of two of the biggest names in Hollywood ever since. Williams gave the film a depth it would otherwise lack. Not to say that Damon and Affleck weren’t brilliant. Just a little green behind the ears.

3. The role of the genie in Aladdin (the highest grossing film of 1992) was written for Williams and his multiple-award-winning performance “led the way for other animated films to incorporatre actors with more star power. He was named a Disney Legend in 2009.”

NB: This guy knew how to make you laugh. He knew how to make you cry. And he did again and again and again. Echoing the valediction at the end of the “Oh Captain, My Captain” clip: thank you, Robin!

Robin Williams

Good Morning, Vietnam

Dead Poets Society

Good Will Hunting

Oh Captain, my Captain

If you don’t like laughing, whatever you do, don’t click on this Wikiquote link, and above all make sure there are no sharp objects on the floor before you do:

Robin Williams

For the last three years of posts organized by theme:

PDF with headlines — Google Drive


So what is the best cartoon you have seen lately? or in the last 10 years? or the last 50? or your favorite joke? Or what is your famous holiday food? Main course? Dessert? Fondest food memories? Favorite foods to eat or prepare? Anything miscellaneous to share from anywhere? Best trip you ever took in your life? Practical life tips? Random facts? Jokes?

This is your chance to make someone else’s day. Or to cement in your mind a memory that might otherwise disappear. Or to think more deeply about something dear to your heart. Continuity is key to depth of thought.

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