It’s been a few weeks since the great Robin Williams passed away. In that time we also lost another great comic in Joan Rivers. Both forces of nature when it came to their own style of comedy.
At one stage in the late 70’s Robin Williams was the biggest TV star in the US. A few years later he became the biggest star in my homeland of Australia. Mork and Mindy was on 5 times a week in Australia and I would watch it daily at 5.30pm. Mork was like nothing else I had seen on TV. At that stage my TV viewing history was a mixture of Skippy, The Love Boat, Little House on the Prairie, The Sullivans, Tom and Jerry, Happy Days, CHiPs and Eight is Enough. After looking at that list, and being a 6 year old, the character Mork was definitely going to spin my head.
His death brought an interesting level of sadness, because he was a mainstay in popular culture, stemming from the collective viewing of Mork and Mindy and then his success in movies. And when you wanted more of him he would pop up on your favorite talks shows, from Carson to Letterman to Leno. His personality made you think he was your friend, that he would always be there on the big screen or the little one, ready to make you laugh.
In my first six months as a fledgeling radio reporter who had to get interviews and somehow make them funny I ran into Robin Williams in New York. It was at the premiere of his movie INSOMNIA, also starring Al Pacino and Hillary Swank.
It was May 2002 and Robin had performed the previous night at a concert for the Tribeca Film Festival. I went to the concert and he had done a funny bit on “nipples” in New York City when the weather improved.
Have a listen to my first radio moment with Robin Williams…
A year later Robin won a Grammy for Best Comedy Album and I was at the press conference. This is short but again “nipples” gets a mention.
In April 2005 Robin Williams helped his daughter Zelda promote the movie the House of D. I worked hard to get under the hood of Robin in this red carpet interview. There are moments where I think I’m getting a serious Robin Williams and then hilarious madness kicks in. It was great to have had some warm moments with the very big Robin Williams.