- Posted August 11, 2014 by
Fort Lee, New Jersey
This iReport is part of an assignment:
The night that I met Robin Williams at the Comic Strip in NYC
It started out as an evening of fun in the Big Apple and ended with an unexpected and pleasant surprise. It was either the late Fall or early Winter of 1983. My friend and I went to see a comedy show at The Comic Strip in NYC. We attended the late show. After the show ended, we stuck around for a while. It was late in the evening. I got into a conversation with the Master of Ceremonies (MOC). Everyone had already left the Comic Strip by this time. The only people left there were my friend, the MOC and I.
I ended up talking to the MOC for about 10 to 15 minutes or so. I was keenly interested in finding out about how someone like me could try my hand at comedy. By the way, I actually took a comedy course in NYC many years later. I performed a 5 minute routine at Caroline's Comedy Club at the end of the course. It was kind of like our own comedy class graduation ceremony.
Anyway, the MOC was telling me about comedy and all of the famous people who had made their name there at The Comic Strip. He went on to say something like "lots of famous people went through here, including the guy who is standing right behind you now." I turned around and, much to my surprise, there was Robin Williams! He was standing at the bar with two blondes who were just laughing and giggling away! I know this sounds like the beginning of a joke, but that was what was actually happening. They were all together and were happily munching on a couple of slices of pizza directly from the bar.
I went over to Robin to say a quick hello and to just get the chance to talk with him for a few minutes. Needless to say, I was very polite. He was wearing a beret. He also had a long woolen coat on that looked like a long military style pea coat. I also remember that he was about 5'7" tall. I'm 6 feet tall, so I was about 5 inches taller than him.
When I got his attention, I said "hi Robin" and then stated that I had seen him recently on HBO in a Mork movie. I accidentally messed up the actual title of the movie. My friend and I had been drinking at the evening performance. I wasn't drunk but I was feeling the effects of the alcohol. The HBO movie was actually "The World According to Garp" and it had recently been playing on HBO. I guess that the similarity of the words "Mork" and "Garp" are what tripped me up. It's interesting that these two similar one syllable words became stage character names that he played in his rise to fame. Robin responded with a quizzical look on his face and replied something like "Mork movie?" I replied by saying that I didn't remember the title, but that I really enjoyed the movie.
During the time I was talking one-on-one with Robin, my friend had gone over to the coat check area to get our coats. As he came back to our area of the club, I turned around toward him, motioned backwards with my thumb several times, and said to him excitedly in a low voice "It's Robin Williams, it's Robin Williams!"
As my friend started to approach Robin, he said "hey Robin!" and subsequently squeezed his own personal body part two times in quick succession while making the sound of an old fashioned car horn honking. (My friend told me later on that he had taken that idea from one of Robin William's own comedy routines). Robin looked at him, waited a few seconds, and then said "yeah" and immediately repeated the same sound two times directly back to my friend in a low voice. He seemed to have an expression on his face that said "I don't want to encourage him, but at least I should just try and humor this guy for a minute". My friend then asked Robin a question. He said something like "I saw you on TV in a play with a man on stage that was playing your father. Was that your real dad?" I was so embarrassed. I felt like diving under the nearest table in order to save myself. Robin graciously responded with words to the effect "no, that wasn't my Dad. That was another actor."
I wanted to make sure that we weren't bothering him. So, as we were starting to leave, I asked Robin if I could at least shake hands with him. He reached out and we shook hands. I think that he also shook the hand of my friend, although I don't remember that for sure.
Anyway, my friend and I left right after that. It was fun and a real pleasure to have had the opportunity of personally meeting an entertainer whom I have enjoyed and respected for so long, not only for his performances and his choice of roles but also for his incredible talent.
RIP Robin. Thank you so much for your incredible legacy of laughter, your gifts as a comedic and a dramatic actor, and for your wonderful and penetrating insights into the human condition.