Robin Williams leaves behind a legacy of laughter

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LIKE many people around the world I was deeply saddened by the death of actor/comedian Robin Williams last week.

One of the first stand-up comedy videos I ever saw was Robin Williams: An Evening at the Met and it completely blew me away. I had never seen anything like it.

This human ball of energy exploded onto the stage, operating on a comedic stream of consciousness with such a carefree abandon of impressions and jokes it was a joy to behold.

It did not matter that much of that adult material went over my 12-year-old head because it was his energy that I was drawn to. Williams seemed to be able to tap into a limitless well of comedy that flowed through him effortlessly.

It was the first time I began to understand the power of comedy and humour.

Previously, I had been drawn to Williams' singular talent in films like Good Morning Vietnam, Mrs Doubtfire, Aladdin, Dead Poets Society and Hook as well as re-runs of Mork and Mindy and now, through his stand-up, I was discovering another side of this manic performer that was filthy and furiously funny.

I spent several days last week watching clips from interviews and his stand-up marvelling at Williams' skill.

Even the most seasoned journalists, in a quest for a serious interview, could not quash his mischievous glee and would often succumb to his relentless pursuit to make people laugh.

I read with a heavy heart all the tributes that came in from those that had worked with him, to those like me, who did not know the man but had been greatly influenced by him.

Williams taught me that comedy could be used as a tool to win a girl's affection or a shield to deflect a bully's unwanted attention.

He taught me that that no subject was off limits for laughter as long as it came from the right place.

In my favourite film of his, Dead Poets Society, he taught me to question authority and be wary of conforming to the status quo and suppressing my individualism.

Most importantly he taught me to laugh at myself.

I was very fortunate to see Robin Williams perform in 2010 on his Weapons of Self Destruction tour and he did not disappoint.

He riffed on everything from politics to relationships to his own battle with alcohol at blistering speed and had the entire audience in the palm of his hands, all the way to the end with a brilliantly blue joke that left the audience in stitches.

Thank you for all the memories and laughs Mr Williams, you will be missed.

Topics:  robin williams

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