Robin Williams: The Sadness that Killed the Funniest Man in the World

Your Move Chief: Fans have set up a memorial at the bench featured in "Good Will Hunting."

Your Move Chief: Fans have set up a memorial at the bench featured in “Good Will Hunting.”

It was in Mexico City, during my lean years when work was slowing to a stop and I was incredibly unhappy about life. I was teaching English then and it was becoming an absolute chore, trying to get the desire to even go. The money was lousy, I was getting paid once a month, paychecks were normally late by two weeks. I couldn’t pay rent, cell phone service, gas, water and barely food.

So I remember standing on the platform in a metro station, waiting for the next train to come. I thought of how unequipped for absolutely everything I was (or so I felt). I felt like I wasn’t good for anything.

I felt useless.

Then there, on the platform, that thought drifted up: what if I just ended it all? I have no use. I have no purpose. It was beginning to sound like a good idea. I’ll just take myself out of the gene pool and let the useful people run things. And I stood there, beginning to feel the pressure of the wind intensify as I knew very soon, a train would be coming.

But the train arrived and instead of jumping in front of it, I jumped in it.


It has been years since that incident but I remember it clearly. I have since gotten to a happier place in my life (a change in career plans, perspective on life and a new appreciation for the simple things) but it is always standing there, looming in the background, a reminder from whence I came and how far I have to go.


There was a time when I did not like Robin’s work. I thought Mork was obnoxious. I found the comedic movies very much slapstick and not my cup of tea. But that all changed when I saw James Lipton’s “Inside Actor’s Studio” interview. I was hooked, and ever since then, I religiously watched all his interviews, paying little mind to his movie career. The man who was there in the spotlight drew from a very sad spot, where as a kid, he wanted his mother to pay attention to him so he started being funny.

There are those who criticize suicide, saying that it was selfish and unfair to his family. Saying that he deserved no sympathy. But it is like saying it is like saying because you have arms and legs, you should be able to run marathons instead of becoming fat. And being fat is selfish because you know better and are you only have yourself to blame. Perhaps. But if a normal person can be relatively happy by telling a joke or making people laugh, imagine how bad he must have been, dedicating most of his life to being funny and for that not to take effect. I do not know what demons haunted him but if my experience is something to base it on, he must have been in a very desperate corner where his only way out was through death.

So now I am wiser and of character more complete because of a very singular man, actor, father, husband, comedian and genius and as I see posts recalling people’s favorite movie scenes and quotes (mostly from “Aladdin” or “Dead Poets Society”), I recall my favorite movie (which is now all too painfully fitting) called “What Dreams May Come.”

And please, if you know someone who is depressed, know that it may not be something that you just “snap out of.” Support them and be there for them. They need you. And you may just save someone.

I’m sorry, babe. I’m sorry.

A still from "What Dreams May Come." You are free.

A still from “What Dreams May Come.” You are free.


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