Viral Video: Conan O’Brien Remembers Robin Williams, the Best Talk Show Guest in the World
Known for his never-ending repertoire of impressions and comedic riffs, Robin Williams’ first of many gifts was the gift of comedy at warp speed. We never knew what would come out of his mouth next. One minute he’d be answering a question and talking to Johnny Carson, only to jump up and start trilling at a microphone in his best impression of a dolphin. Or he’d be firing off impressions of John Wayne and Jack Nicholson. Even Mr. Rogers was fair game. One thing we did know: When Williams was in the house, we’d be laughing or just about ready to laugh. And not just sort of laughing, but full-on belly-laughing, the kind where tears were running down our cheeks and we were trying to stop laughing so we could breathe.
So many of us grew up with him, through his early, raucous live routines at L.A. Improv (and a stand-out, stand-up performance at the Met), the Mork & Mindy days, and on into dramatic roles in films such as Dead Poets Society; Good Morning, Vietnam; Good Will Hunting (for which he won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor); and The Fisher King. Juilliard-trained, Williams imbued some of his best roles with comedy and pathos.
Beyond his comedic genius and dramatic range, Williams was a supremely well-rounded human being with interests ranging from road cycling to World of Warcraft, performances with the USO for U.S. troops stationed overseas, and generous donations to charities. He was also a generous, supportive colleague and friend to many fellow actors and comedians in the entertainment industry. In the words of a tweet from Steve Martin, he was a “… mensch, great talent, acting partner, genuine soul.”
The news that Williams died by suicide earlier this week has resulted in an outpouring of grief and tributes from his many fans and friends in the business. Among the more touching stories included a series of tweets from Norm Macdonald recounting a time when Williams stopped by Macdonald’s dressing room as Macdonald anxiously awaited his first stand-up appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.
This week’s video from Conan O’Brien is yet another testament to Williams’ positive impact and personal kindness, in the midst of personal turmoil that included battles with drugs and alcohol addiction at various times in Williams’ life, and just prior to his death, struggles with depression and the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. In the video, O’Brien recounts how Williams was there for O’Brien during a difficult time in O’Brien’s own life. The video also includes well-chosen footage that highlights Williams’ best moments as a guest on O’Brien’s show. It’s a classy tribute to an amazing talent who made us laugh until we cried, made us think and made the world an immensely better place.