By Paul Seaburn
His portrayal of an alien brought him into our orbit, his comedy was universal and his talent was out of this world, I am a comedy writer. Like many in this business, I am a student of the craft and was both inspired and intimidated by the huge comedic talent of Robin Williams. Yes, I was a fan of Jonathan Winters, Sid Caesar, Johnny Carson, the Marx Brothers and other comedy geniuses but Robin was part of the new generation … one of us. While I never got a chance to meet him, I had the pleasure of watching him live, in recordings, in movies and of course, on “Mork & Mindy.”
For those who may not remember or are not familiar with the show, Mork was sent to Earth by his superior, Orson, because humor was not permitted on his home planet of Ork and Mork would be ostracized for it, or worse – a feeling shared by many of us former class clowns and by followers of unusual and unaccepted beliefs. The first and by far the best season focused on Mork trying to understand humans and fit into the culture. At the end of each episode, Mork reported on his experiences to Orson, a kind of alien therapy session.
For me, comedy is an art and a science and often a mystery. It’s nearly impossible to accomplish what Robin Williams did – make people laugh universally. If and when we finally meet visitors from other planets, will they have a sense of humor? Will we be able to make each other laugh? What a wonderful way to get to know each other.
Perhaps we could try a few lines from Robin Williams, courtesy of Mork & Mindy:
I want to be a hickey on the neck of life.And one from Robin for all of us:
If my knees knock any louder, I’m gonna look inside my pants and see who’s there.
Mindy – Mork, why are you building a tower of Cheerios?
Mork – Because it’s hard to stack oatmeal.
You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.