Thank You, Robin

August 14, 2014 by John Andrew Williams

Robin Williams

I’m not sure if I felt a certain affinity to Robin Williams since we shared a last name (even though it’s a last name shared by a few billion people) or it was the genius in his frenetic comedy.

But I always loved Robin.

When I started doing stand-up, about a year ago, Robin was one of the few comics I studied and mapped out his bits. His stand-up was remarkable for his tangents, the unscripted moments that created magic out of nothing. His improv was magnetic, so similar to the improv concepts at the core of life coaching.

Speaking to a room, living on the edge of life, riding the laughter as if it were a wave, the experience is ecstatic.

There are few waves as fantastic as a room full of laughter you created on purpose.

The second time I ever took the stage and tried to be funny was a contest deemed ‘Portland’s Funniest Person.’ I didn’t expect to win, or even make it out of the first round. I just didn’t want to totally bomb.

I had a 6-minute bit, and about 3 minutes into it, I got my first real laugh from the crowd. It was a good, hard laugh.

And I was set free.

I took a tangent. I went off script. And going off script is usually a big no-no in stand-up. Everything is usually so scripted from facial expressions to pausing. It’s a huge risk that usually doesn’t end well.

But in this case, the tangent worked. Then another. Then another. And my time ran out, but not before I had a brief moment of feeling like Robin Williams on stage.

I spent months studying his sets, understanding how he put his jokes together. And now I had the mic and I earned a little cred from the crowd.

I was a wanna-be-Robin-Williams-on-stage for a minute, and it was one of the best few minutes of my life.

I miss him. I’ll miss his work yet to be produced.

And I thank him for the power and gifts he left for us to enjoy.

Thank you, Robin.

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Also read: Persistence and the Professional Tuba Player

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