496 – “You are cordially invited…”

Normally, I’d write here about the 5th Edition of D&D and how it looks promising (it does – the long national 4th edition nightmare is over) along with the trailer for Tyranny of Dragons, which is amazing. I might also write about how the new expansion for World of Warcraft, Warlords of Draenor, also looks cool. I could also be talking about how I am hopping back in the saddle and GMing a 3.5 D&D game for the first time in a few years and how it’s an adventure written entirely by me, which I also have not done in years.

I could write about all that, but I’m not going to. I am instead going to write about one of my heroes. I am going to write about Robin Williams.

I understand if you might be a little tired of hearing news about him; the 24 news cycle being what it is (along with the Internet) tends to rehash the same information over and over again until new details emerge. If you’d rather just skip all of this, please feel free; no judgement here. I just want to tell you about how he touched my life, even though we regrettably never met.

I wrote a little about this on Facebook the day Robin died, so if you follow me there, you may see some familiar material here. When I was a kid, I used to watch Mork and Mindy with my grandfather, Puppa. My mom’s father, Puppa could always tell when Robin was sticking to the script or was improvising and it always made him laugh. It was one of the few things we enjoyed together, as Puppa worked graveyard shifts as a security guard and was always a frail man.

Later, when I was in my mid-20s, I was at my best friend Paul’s house and we were watching Robin Williams – Live at the Metropolitan Opera House on HBO, which was the concert film that brought Robin back into the spotlight, just before Good Morning Vietnam was released. Seeing how much fun he had on stage and hearing the laughter made me want to try my hand at stand-up, which I did for about a year and half in the early nineties (like about 1/4 of the American population, apparently). The key thing is this: doing stand-up got me out of my shell. I was the stereotypical shy fat kid in high school and even into early college; I hardly ever said “boo” to anyone and the idea of getting on stage and talking to people back then would have terrified me, I think. However, thanks to Robin’s inspiration, I did it. In the end, stand-up really wasn’t for me, as I decided I didn’t want to entertain drunks in comedy clubs at 1:00AM. I went back to my first love, cartooning, but Mr. Williams had and will always have a place in my comedic heart. I know he had his demons to contend with in life, along with having recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and I dearly hope that he has found the peace that was so long denied him in life.

Thank you Robin. I will be forever in your debt.

~Robert Chambers