I woke up this morning with all of the usual happiness flooding into my head. It was a nice day, good weather, my better half lay beside me and we greeted one another in the usual (for us) manner. I then began my morning ritual of filling the kettle, switching on the laptop ready for my work, getting the breakfast ready while my fiancé got ready for her work. I check my emails, usually getting various news items displaying on Yahoo while I am logging into my accounts.
Today's news was one of those very rare occasions when my jaw audibly dropped.
Robin Williams has killed himself.
To anyone who loved the guy it's a total downer, but to me it's a very personal pain. I never knew him, never even saw him at a gig. I knew his body of work, saw the majority of it. From when he first got noticeable in Mork and Mindy and beyond to what is undoubtedly the kind of rare stardom reserved for only the absolute greatest, Robin made me laugh, so much so that I learned not to eat or drink anything while watching him for fear of choking, which may appear to be an unfortunate choice of wording given the way he chose to die, but it's really quite deliberately appropriate.
I'm no expert, but to the best of my knowledge Robin Williams never 'choked', throughout his career he was a tornado of wit, blowing through auditoriums with seemingly boundless energy and machine-gun rapid comedy. I hadn't even finished laughing at one of the things he said before another three came out that were just as funny.
I can understand Robin had his own demons. I can understand that there's no amount of fame, wealth or power which can beat them when they attack. I can understand that he would kill himself as sometimes these things become bigger than anything and there really seems like no way out. There isn't going to be a point at which I say 'what I can't understand is...'.
There are times when I feel a bit low, and one of my remedies for that is comedy. I have a seriously large comedy film and sitcom collection as well as in excess of 100 DVDs of Stand-Up comics. I know funny when I see it, and Robin was extraordinary. Considering the exceptional volume of comedians there are very few who are as internationally renowned and as consistently funny as Robin. The majority of the all-time greats are no longer living, there are very few these days who can compete. I think it's going to be some time now before I'll be able to put on a Robin Williams film and just laugh again at his irreverence and genius.
Step up Steve Martin, it's up to you now.