Let me interrupt by saying that there are many discussions about Robin's death on the internet (when are there not?) and about the pain that Robin battled all through his life. Yesterday, that battle finally came to an end. I feel a certain sense of relief that in death, Robin was released from the pain and sorrow that he fought on a daily basis.
Many people cite his work in Good Will Hunting, a masterful Oscar-winning performance, as his career best. Others consider his voice work in Aladdin, his comic genius in Mrs. Doubtfire or his childlike guile in Hook as their favorite. My personal favorite performance of his, both immensely poignant and also very funny, was his turn as Mr. Keating in Dead Poets Society. Note that overall, I've had a certain level of discomfort with this movie. Its subject matter: an oppressive father, subjugation of intellect and creativity and its barefaced portrayal of suicide hits very hard with me, emotionally. I think that I might have cried more at this movie than at E.T. That's saying a lot, considering my whole family openly wept at E.T. in the movie theater. Dead Poets Society is still hard for me to watch, but there are so many great performances that I find solace in the wisdom imparted by its masterful story telling. One such example is this scene, made even more relevant by Robin's untimely death.
In closing, I would like to cite this poem in memory of my inspiration, my childhood idol, my laughter, Robin Williams.
May you rest well, knowing you have truly seized the day and shown us all so much joy and shared your talent with humanity.
Who makes the clown laugh when he is down?
When he’s depressed, who is there around?
He spends all his time cheering up others
Mothers, Fathers, Sisters and Brothers
He puts on a front, he puts on a show
But deep down inside, his own being is low
He’s depended by people to brighten their lives
Yet his own existence is full of trouble and strife
He’s called upon by others when they have worries
He humours them with jokes, actions and stories
But when he’s alone, he starts to feel sad
Isolation and loneliness makes him go mad
His audience has gone, no one for a banter
The repertoire of jokes he tells at a canter
They’re no longer needed, there’s no one to tell
He cries for attention, he’s going through hell
When needing a lift, favours are not returned
He calls for help but his pleas are spurned
Sitting alone, he longs for true company
The chatter of voices, the sound of a symphony
He can’t raise himself, his efforts are wasted
So he sits and cries for the joy he once tasted
Who makes the clown laugh when he is low?
That is the question, for I do not know.
-J W Austin