I generally struggle to write messages in birthday cards, in fact it is not often at all I even go out to buy a birthday card. So how am I supposed to scribble down best wishes to someone who would entertain everyone else in the room at his own birthday party? Born 21st July 21 in 1951 (the same year my own father was born), Robin Williams would have been 64 today. The loss of this great entertainer still pulls my guts out, and we ought to still celebrate his birthday today. If I start to spill out my memories of Robin Williams as they come to me then you would be reading a 300 plus page book now, and not a message in a birthday card.
I would write about seeing his stand-up when I was a kid, and it was like no other man-on-stage act I had seen. There was a joke about a quarterback flicking kisses to spectators who love him, and a man being pulled over, intoxicated so much he hears the police officer talk in slow motion. I pissed my pants and burst my tear ducts laughing at Williams performing that.
I would write just that. That he was a performer, absolutely larger than life. He was a magician. Growing up and trying to figure out how that incredible and wacky character Mork was played by the same guy I later saw in the excellent Good Morning, Vietnam – acting, I mean, really great dramatic acting. I would discover Williams not only took over the parts he played, but would incorporate his brand of improvisational humor – he was making up this comedy genius as he went along. That he would turn a mere chat show into the Robin Williams Laughter Show. I should write that too.
I have to also write about that ground-breaking, ridiculously entertaining voice work as the Genie in Aladdin. He burst out of the screen, not just that lamp. I would also jot down that I laughed out loud as he unleashed his camper, chameleon style of comedy with Mrs. Doubtfire and The Birdcage (God bless you too Mike Nichols).
I would like to write that he was still impressing me much later in his film career with a range of creepier dramatic work in the likes of One Hour Photo and Insomnia. I could write about his magnetic turn in The Fisher King, his heart-warming and Oscar-winning (finally!) role in Good Will Hunting. And I would tell him he is still teaching me about all manner of life points when I think about or watch Dead Poets Society.
I would write that his sheer presence makes us laugh and warms our heart. That I can’t think of another actor who made such a great impression on so many people with a multi-brand of talent and amusement. There was an unavoidable sympathetic aura about him too, you can see it in most of his work, and we must not forget that. I would also write Happy Birthday Robin Williams, you have kept me entertained for as long as I have known such a concept – you are one of a kind. I may just write that 300 page book after all, a birthday card is just not big enough.
Please leave you own birthday wishes if there’s room.