Sunday, August 17, 2014
It is funny but, my "generation voices" were less musicians and or rockers and to me at least mostly comedians, for stand up was amidst a sort of revolution when I came of age...the range of course ran from Judy Tenuta, Paula Poundstone and all the way out to a very young Jerry Seinfeld, Steve Wright and presiding over them the veritable Jester King, the Supreme Mxyztplk, was Robin Williams the Poet Laureate of Stand Up. He was the Guy they all envied, not for his success so much as his limitless store of energy, conjuration & raw chutzpah (even if he strayed into Joke Theft, a common disease of comedians, just ask Red Skelton). And it is just ineffably sad to note, that he took his own life, something that doesn't really as an altogether surprise. The man was a phenomenon and a game changer...let that be his epitaph. Let us leave OFF the tombstone the many many bad films he made, for example "Patch Adams", "Mrs Doubtfire" & "Hook" (a veritable trilogy of Mawkishness...fit to serve only as enhanced interrogation options in CIA Black Prisons all over the globe)... At the height of this cataract of sentimentality, you could check your watch at the one hour and forty five minute mark of a Robin Williams' movie for the moment when he broke down the fourth wall and addressed the film audience itself to deliver The Moral of the Story "Mork Calling Orson" style. I mean he did this in something like seven films over a span of fifteen years you'd think he'd put a stop to it, but no...Robin hectored on and on. It is important to recall that in "The Great Dictator" (1940) at the very end, Chaplin turned and addressed his audience about the horrors of totalitarianism and the ineffable possibilities of peace, he did this because he thought Civilization itself was coming to an end. Robin on the other hand routinely used a divine gift for persuasion and improvisation to extoll of merits of being nice to old people, making time for Family and the virtues of puppies...in short he deployed a Gift from the Gods to shore up shoddy manipulative scriptwriting. Well what of it? He got an Oscar for a straight dramatic performance, ("Good Will Hunting"), but likely deserved it even moreso for The Genie in "Alladin"....I mean whoever heard of a improv performance in an Animated Film?? In concert there was no one better...Hell in the interview environment there was no one better, in both respects Williams much resembles the late Peter Sellers who simply saw the most routine chat show appearance as a performance venue. If Joke Stealing and Moralizing were crimes then the careers of everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Milton Berle & beyond would come to end with a soft puff of smoke...and then where would we be? We've already lost Robin Williams let us reduce the ranks no further.