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Go Comedy! to Honor Robin Williams… Monday

Go Comedy! to Honor Robin Williams, National Standing Ovation Monday934_8600_Gen-Online_Banners2

(Pj Jacokes, Producer Go Comedy!, Aug. 16, 2014)

Monday night my basement flooded. My son and I ran through the rising water trying to save what we could before it got too deep. Suddenly, my phone beeped. Expecting an update on the storm, I swiped it open.

Actor Robin Williams, 63, has been found dead of an apparent suicide.

And I froze. The cold, dark water was only ankle deep, but I was drowning in disbelief. Robin Williams was dead. The funniest man alive just couldn’t take it anymore. Once the initial shock had washed over me, I headed for drier ground to cope with all of the day’s losses.

I was aware of his struggles with addiction, but as the week went on and more details emerged about his spiritual life ferndaledepression and the onset of Parkinson’s, things became clearer. Not easier, but they made sense.

No one gets into comedy because they are well adjusted. Humor is a coping mechanism. It’s a defense system. It’s an escape. This isn’t to say that all comedians are hopelessly maladjusted, but it’s rare to find one who isn’t damaged (aren’t we all?). I’ve dealt with depression. The dark, stifling cloud of emptiness. It’s not an easy thing to shake.

Except on stage. There’s something beautiful that happens up there, especially in improv, where you can transform into anyone and leave your insecurities behind. It’s weirdly personal and disconnected. An audience can feel like the best friend you ever had. It’s an addiction all its own, but the high only lasts the length of a show. And eventually, it’s just you again.Judy_Palmer30years

_____________

My first fuzzy memory of Robin Williams was Mork, the alien man-child from Ork. He was universal. He was as funny to me as he was to my parents.

Then I watched him on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He was a tornado of comedy. He had the energy of Daffy Duck getting electrocuted and a reference level as vast and deep as any ocean. If he did a bit that you didn’t understand it was OK, because there was another one coming in the next 8 seconds. He was simply magical. As an improvisor, you learn to let yourself go, to not think, to be free and let it happen. There will never be a greater example of that than sidebar01reader_supportRobin Williams. He was exciting to watch, because you never knew what was going to happen. Every late night couch was richer for having him on it.

A few years later, while attending U of D High, I rented Dead Poets Society. As an artistic kid in a private all-male business prep school that didn’t always nurture my sense of self-expression, I knew what it was to have my “barbaric Yawp” reduced to a whisper. One night, my friends and I broke into Kirk of the Hills Church (because it resembled the Welton Academy). We brought a book of poetry and some homemade cookies and sat under a withered old tree at the edge of a small lake and read to each other. (We got busted by some very disappointed policemen. Poetry isn’t much of a crime.)

One thing I hold dear from my time at U of D is its motto – “Men for Others.” Looking over Williams’ filmography, it’s clear he was a man for others. Many of his roles were men who gave everything they had to make the world around them a better place, something that he did off-screen as much as on.nicholas-schrock-allstate

This Monday, August 18 at 4pm EST, organizers in San Francisco have set up a worldwide “Standing Ovation for Robin Williams.” Go Comedy! will be opening our doors at 3:30pm for anyone who wants to share that moment with other fans and while our tables are too fragile to stand on, I hope you’ll join us in standing up and acknowledging Our Captain, one last time.

Go Comdedy! is located at 261 E. Nine Mile Rd in Ferndale. Learn more at http://gocomedy.net/.

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