There’s no correlation between being happy and being funny. And why would there be? Comedians aren’t funny because they’re laughing themselves, they’re funny because they are able to grab the truth and manipulate us to look at it in a way we haven’t before. Poets do that too, and nobody expects them to be laughing.
Still, we want fairness. If somebody makes us laugh and brings us joy, we want them to be happy too – and often they are. Many of the funniest people I know really are among the happiest. That’s why we’re all so sad about Robin Williams today. It just doesn’t seem fair. We’re sad for selfish reasons too: it’s a rough world out there and when someone can make us laugh at it we need them to stick around. You can say “heaven is a lot funnier today,” but come on. They have Lucille Ball. They have Gilda Radner. They have George Carlin and Sid Caesar and Richard Pryor and John Candy and Chris Farley. They even have a bouncer who keeps out all of the evil dictators, serial killers and people who try to talk to you on public transit when you’re trying to read a book. And what do we have? A quick scan of the New York Times homepage tells me that it’s not going great out there; we could have at least kept Robin Williams. It’s especially hard to lose someone like Robin Williams (and, in that loss, Mork and Mrs. Doubtfire and Peter Pan themselves) because he wasn’t just dryly funny, he was ebullient. It feels like all of the bubbles have been stirred out of everything.
People should be remembered at their best. And at his best, Robin Williams wasn’t just making us laugh, he was bubbling over with joy. Here are some of the most joy-filled moments he gave us :
The egg scene from ‘Mork and Mindy’
This disastrous meeting from ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’
The Genie’s exit from the lamp in ‘Aladdin’
Giving these kids the giggles in ‘Patch Adams’
If you’re not crying yet, kids from a real children’s hospital played the patients in the ward.
Funeral humor with Carol Burnett
Singing Swee’Pea to sleep in ‘Popeye’
Giving Elmo A Stick
Everything About ‘Good Morning Vietnam’
This standup set, saying what we all know to be true about golf
With Johnny Carson
Insulting a child in ‘Hook’
Going on safari in ‘Death To Smoochy’
Playing a rapidly-aging child in ‘Jack’
Fosse, Fosse, Fosse in ‘The Bird Cage’
Ripping on smart kids
This Siri impression