The very best moments from the funniest man who ever lived
I’ve been accused of being a big fat crybaby all week thanks to the untimely passing of Mr. Robin Williams. However, truth is I am one helluva man with the emotional fortitude of a WWII veteran who’s also a lumberjack, and I consider tears, in any form, to be solely the territory of queer baby girls. But there is one thing that broke me, and for whatever reason, I can’t stop watching it. This moment, the one where Conan cuts into his own talk show to break the announcement to his audience that Williams had died, and it happens in the first 15 seconds.
It’s that audible gasp from the audience. That’s the thing the separates the nature of Williams death and his legacy from the death of any other celebrity you’re likely to experience ever again. So, say Conan did something similar with the recent passing of Lauren Bacall (whom I wish I could apologize to for being so greatly overshadowed.) “Awwwww… she was so great in that old thing” would’ve been the audience reaction, but in the case of Williams it’s “Awww-WAIT, WHAT THE FUCK?! NO!” You can hear an instant and immediate unwillingness to accept it. That speaks volumes to me on Williams and his relationship with the public. Whether you loved him or not, it’s very difficult for anyone to see Williams as anything but a source of continued happiness. And don’t worry, this is gonna get funnier. At least Conan is, because the very next day he delivered an awesome story about Robin, one none of us have heard about from the period of O’Brien’s Tonight Show debacle, followed by some clips from Williams’ appearances throughout the years.
That’s one of the points I was getting at in this stupidly long piece (which I kind want to take down now that it’s been revealed Williams was suffering from the early stages of Parkinsons) and undoubtedly why Conan interrupted his broadcast in the first place: Robin Williams was FUCKING MAGIC on talk shows. When he wasn’t showing what a remarkably talented actor he was, he was an absurdly gifted comedian, and the gem that was his improvisational brilliance never shone brighter than on the various televised chat downs he graced with his presence throughout the last FORTY YEARS. Jimmy Fallon provided us with more evidence to that fact with a touching salute followed by Williams first appearance on the Carson-hosted tonight show.
Talk shows are almost an ancient relic of the past at this point, but I believe TV executives are still willing to put them on the air for the occasional moment a man like Robin Williams could bring to 5-10 minutes of unscripted entertainment. The man was a talk show tentpole, and more often than not, willing to go above and beyond for whatever the show in question needed. Here’s a great appearance from a Letterman, where he and Dave go and hassle audience members leaving screenings of Dead Poets Society. (This clip should also damn sure make you preemptively miss the wackiness brought to the world by the soon-to-be-gone David Letterman)
And I think the thing that makes Williams disappearance all the more tragic is, in spite of his success, age, and all those little ways a person grows and changes over the course of several decades, Williams could still comedically skull-fuck a couch as long as you were pointing a camera at it. Who else but Robin gets a full THIRD of a talk show devoted to him just being himself?! Find out why with this clip from Craig Ferguson, which I believe is less than a year old. Witness a +60-year-old man who has no problem talking about a the ancient sitcom that made him famous, as well as singing and dancing and behaving like a naughty, potty-mouthed child just to entertain an audience, all while perhaps silently suffering from a debilitating ailment we can’t even see. Fucking love this.
Obviously, I could disappear into a dangerous multi-day loop of these appearances, and I fully fucking intend to as soon as I can get some of this work off my plate. Until then, I strongly encourage all of you reading this to post your favorite Robin Williams in the comments below. I wanna come back to this.
BOOM: UPDATE! David Letterman has chimed in on the matter with a touching piece/clip package in attempt to encapsulate their THIRTY-EIGHT YEAR relationship. Really, really funny/touching
12 thoughts on “The Amazing Talk Show Appearances of Robin Williams”
Chris some Robin Williams Genie clips you may have missed. He did educational bumpers for Disney’s One Saturday Morning block…GREAT MINDS THINK FOR THEMSELVES…
Let me try that again
I think these are what I mentioned in the week’s Vidjagame Apocalypse. Other then the game, these are the only Genie lines I’ve never heard before. And I’m saving them.
Also Dan Castnella is the one at Disney Quest so you’re okay to go there…
Craig Ferguson and Robin Williams dancing on stage to Hit Me Baby One More Time. Nuff said.
Chris, more of this would be deeply appreciated because it’s all fucking gold, god damn Robin Williams was a national treasure.
The dedication that man had to making every single person around him smile is one of the most admirable traits I’ve ever seen in any entertainer. What an absolutely phenom. I’m devastated.
Thank you so much for this and the other Robin posts. I really enjoyed both of them. I would have never seen that sobering moment on Conan or the Jimmy Fallon one I watched had it not been for this content. The man was an absolute treasure.
What you said in your other article about how fans could have done more to show him that he was still beloved resonated with me. You’re absolutely right. I have no excuse for not watching his show or a huge swath of his filmography. I simply did not think to.
I guess all we really can do is remember his legacy, and be way more mindful about depression.
Enjoyed this article, voice actor who played Olaf from Frozen recalls how Robin inspired him as a kid, then eventually became his friend.
Thank you so much for this Chris, and also, please do not take your other post about Robin Williams down? New info or not, it was still a very heartfelt, genuine post and something that deserves to be read.
Chris, don’t take down your previous post. It was brilliantly written and encapsulated my feelings as well as yours at the time. The article, and our feelings at the time, aren’t invalided by more recent news. These articles are just recording our grief the way it is actually happening without hindsight which will important as we look back later. In time, it will be impossible to remember that there was a time that we didn’t know Robin Williams was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Your articles and the comments will remind us how unclear and shocking this all was.
Selfishly, I don’t want you to take down the article because in the comments I share a long story (anyone who knows me knows I’m not capable of telling short stories) about Robin Williams in real life. The stories I tell are 100% true and they elevated my perception of Robin Williams beyond being an actor, comedian or entertainer. I saw him as a giving and selfless person looking to do as much good in the world as his celebrity would afford him. You hear it all the time about celebrities that you never meet, “he/she is such as wonderful or nice person.” I saw first hand Robin living life that way. What more can I say. I just wish I had had the balls to tell him the impact he had on me when he was still around.
Here’s a link in case you haven’t been there yet see comment number 26 for my story but read all the comments and article please. http://www.lasertimepodcast.com/2014/08/12/fuck-robin-williams/#more-10735
I think zombie Robin Williams halloween costumes will actually upset me. When I saw zombie Michael Jackson I thought it was genius but not my Robin!