If you're in the 25-35 demographic in this country, which I would believe most of the people who watch our sketches or read any of these blogs are (and even if you're not, there's a good chance this still applies), then I would imagine that you're experiencing a similar feeling of "what the hell" this morning that you can't completely grasp. Look, we've all been around long enough to see the deaths of countless public figures, and many of them were beloved and impacted a lot of people. Their passings were sad and sometimes impossible to comprehend, but we accept it and move forward, if for no other reason than that we have no choice. Us not being able to believe that a guy like Philip Seymour Hoffman would be so depressed that he would inject himself with a lethal dosage of heroin doesn't erase the fact that he did it. The same can be said for the plethora of others that we've seen go long before they were supposed to. But what can we do other than say, "wow, that's unfair" and get back on with life? Unfortunately, it's a process that we've become familiar with, and it's a process that we now have to go through with Robin Williams.
So what is it that makes it so tough to actually do that this time?
Why is it that this one seems different? I mean, our options aren't any different. There's still nothing we can do about one of the greatest entertainers and inspirational figures of our time taking his own life. But just calling this unfair and moving forward doesn't seem possible. This guy was too good. That's not to diminish the impact of others passing that had made an impact on humanity, but when you go back over the last 30 plus years, I don't think you can find another person who embodied the feeling of honest joy more than Robin Williams. And that joy he shared with a lot of us at some of the most impressionable times of our lives.
I think Hook is one of the biggest contributing factors to me having any semblance of imagination in my life. I think Mrs. Doubtfire made me laugh harder than I remember laughing before that in my life, while also allowing my 7 year old self to better understand and accept living with separated parents, something that many of us from this generation have experienced. I think Dead Poets Society is at least partially responsible for the reason I enjoy reading and writing. I think Good Will Hunting is one of the first films I remember watching and realizing what kind of stories I would want to tell if I ever had the chance. I think Jumanji is the reason I hate spiders (joking but not at all). I think watching his standup may be the the most tangible example of what "happy" is supposed to look and feel like.
And the list goes on and on: Good Morning Vietnam, Aladdin, Jack, The Birdcage, Death to Smoochy, Insomnia, hell even Patch Adams, while slightly over the top at times, is definitely a movie that, like the others, stuck with me and affected me in some way.
My guess is that many out there have their own list of ways in which his performances, whether on film or behind a microphone on stage, affected and connected with their lives. The personal details are certainly different, and the films they coincide with as well, I'm sure, but the fact is that for an incredibly large number of us there were not many people in our childhood or life in general that were able to make such an impact while using entertainment as the medium through which to do so. And in my opinion, this is the case because of that honest joy that he personified so well. He could get crazy, or dark, or sad, or (obviously) happy, but it was impossible for him to not give off a warmth in everything he did.
The reason why this is so tough to take is because not many people in this world have that warmth, and even fewer have the capacity to display it. We were lucky enough to get to see somebody harness it, use it to it's fullest potential and allow for it to make a deeper impression on us all. It doesn't change his decision to take his own life, and it doesn't change the fact that our only option is to accept that decision, call it unfair, and then move on. But moving on sort of sucks when you know you're doing it in a world that, as a whole, is just that much less joyful than it has been for the past few decades.
P.S. Always a classic: