Robin Williams


Note: Here’s one of my jokes Robin might appreciate. “They say our Canadian border is secure. Do you realize how many illegal Canadian geese come across it every year?

Robin Williams. Some may wonder why a man who provided so many laughs and smiles for millions of people would commit suicide. The medical examiner said it was suicide.

Robin had been surrounded by humor all his life, starting with the TV show “Mork and Mindy”. Let’s stop and think a minute about people who make us laugh.

I’ve written jokes before and humorous stuff. The writer is concentrating on writing it to be funny or humorous for the people who will be hearing it or reading it. To the writer it is not something he/she laughs at. You are mostly concerned if you have put it together in the right manner.

Take a joke for example. The best jokes are 25 words or less. Here’s one I thought I put together well. “The Atlanta Braves are playing so bad, the players are asking fans for their autographs.” You have the lead-in or set-up, and deliver the punch line with the most important word the last word. Always try to have the most important word the last word. When you deliver that last word, you shut up, and see if anybody laughs.

Some jokes are longer because you have to have a background or history for people to know why the joke should be funny. You can get away with up to 40 words on that type of joke. Here’s one. “People want all the immigrants to speak English immediately. France gave us the Statue of Liberty. When the Statue of Liberty came over here, did she speak English?”

Sometimes in writing longer, humorous pieces, I sprinkle in a line here and there that is not fall-out-of-your-chair funny, but gets small laughs flowing, so when the bigger laughs come later, they are high impact. For example I wrote a piece called “This Kissin’ Thing” about a kid in the mid-forties, just after WWII. He was musing. “Here I am 10 ½ and haven’t kissed a girl yet.” That’s a low-impact laugh line, but it starts you thinking in the right direction, so that when the boy goes to his sister who is a little older, and she has him kissing a milk bottle for practice before he goes and pays another girl to kiss him, the sequence is natural and should be leadingly funny.

From all accounts much of what Robin Williams did was impromptu. You’d think that would result in him having a funny soul, but that’s not the way it works.

I imagine Robin did that a lot around his family, spontaneous punch lines, which endeared him to them. His family seemed to love him a great deal.

Sometimes a person not knowingly lays down a straight line in conversation, and I can come back with a punch line we both laugh at. My wife is one of the best at that, and we wind up laughing a lot. That’s when being able to write jokes and humor are a blessing.

You’d think humor becomes a part of you, but it doesn’t. It’s just another segment of your writing, and doesn’t go soul deep.

Why? I don’t know. You’ll have to ask someone smarter than I am.

That doesn’t mean your soul, in retreat from laughter and humor, always retreats to the dark side. It doesn’t. I doubt Bob Hope ever had a dark thought in his lifetime. He was first a businessman, and then a humorist. I don’t think he had time to think otherwise.

Some might think Jay Leno would suffer deprivation from not being on “The Tonight Show” anymore. He’s had his car collection for a long time, and that is important to him. When he came to Birmingham for a benefit for the Aly Stephens Center, he even got a look at an Alabama-made car. I don’t think the owner was willing to sell the rare auto. I think Jay would rather have that car than a good monologue on “The Tonight Show”.

I do believe Robin Williams’ family did make one statement about him being at the early stages of a very debilitating disease. Maybe that contributed to his thought process before he died.

I saw Robin in a movie Friday night. “The Man of the Year”. It was both a serious and comedic role. For those who doubted his acting ability, I suggest you watch that. His timing on the serious side was impeccable, and he broke his comedic lines at just the right time. Breaking a comedic line is saying the line, and shutting up for the audience to laugh, not trying to nurse it along to get better laughs or a laugh that was not there in the first place.

We miss you Robin. We miss that bravado and bellowing out, “Good Morning Vietnam”. We miss the laughs you manufactured on the many talk shows you were on.

Where you are now, you no longer have that debilitating disease, and perhaps there humor can become a part of your soul. I hope so, Robin, I hope so.

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