Commentary

I Can’t Find the Punchline

By Dane La Born |
Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen in "What Dreams May Come," (1998) a movie about the afterlife.

Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen in “What Dreams May Come,” (1998) a movie about the afterlife.

Outside the typical Monday woes, this past Monday brought along with it some extremely troubling news. Robin Williams, actor, comedian, legend, and icon, killed himself in his home. He was 63.

I am a child of the 90s, and I, like many of you, grew up watching Robin Williams at his most brilliant. Even before we came along, my Mom & Dad used to watch Mork & Mindy, or his old coked-out stand up comedy routines. Of any actor to have died recently, there hasn’t been one who’s had quite the effect that Robin Williams had.

Who didn’t grow up wanting a teacher as passionate and encouraging as John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society? I, and many, have used the ‘O Captain, My Captain’ quote for some of my best teachers (I’m looking at you Robert Neralich). People my age have some of their earliest movie memories directly tied to Robin Williams, either as Peter Pan in Hook, Batty in Fern Gully, Genie in Aladdin, or the titular Mrs. Doubtfire in one of the best movies of the 90’s; Mrs Doubtfire.

For a man that has touched so many lives to exit this world so shockingly and suddenly sent social media reeling. I’ve never seen something take over Facebook the way Robin Williams just did, and it killed me that it was not a hoax or some kind of false information. This was real, and this was tragic.

It makes me profoundly sad that we will never hear his infectious, nigh-maniacal laughter again. That we have lost someone that has made people all over the world feel an entire pantheon of emotion; laughing themselves until they cried, or crying until he made them laugh all over again. He has made us angry, creeped us out, made us profoundly lonely. We have felt loved, safe, and terrified. His range was incredible, and we have his body of work, so at least we have that tiny bit of immortality.

The loss of the man, while great, is not what makes me this profoundly sad. It’s the loss of the icon; the loss of what might have been.

I’ll always have my memories though. Thank you for that, Robin.

Need Help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

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