A couple weeks ago, I went on a real Robin Williams biographical binge. I listened to podcasts before and after his death, watched interviews on YouTube, and watched the new HBO Documentary Come Inside My Mind.
It was all fascinating to me — I think I’ve written about my interest in comedy and entertainment enough I don’t need to dive any more into why I enjoyed it. But, similar to other long-form interviews I’ve listened to with people who have “made it,” there was something both daunting and comforting about Robin’s story.
When you think of Robin Williams, you probably think of things like The Genie from Aladdin, his standup, Good Will Hunting, Dead Poets Society, Mork and Mindy, Flubber…
Even by other comedians’ standards, Robin Williams was prolific. Marc Maron said on his podcast, “He achieved just about everything a comedian could achieve in his career.”
And while we always assume there was some amount of production by a performer/artist before they broke through, I definitely underestimate it.
Robin was playing small clubs (as many comedians do) for years and was asked to play “Mork” on Happy Days because he was gaining a reputation as a weird street performer.
Before that, he spent a summer performing Shakespeare at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. When you talk to someone about Robin Williams, I bet no one would point to his work as a cast member in The Taming of the Shrew at Edinburgh.
I get in my own head a lot about how big and important my work right now feels (sometimes impressed with myself, sometimes totally wigged out) but in reality, I’m just starting the street performing days of my career.
Relatively speaking, I still have a ton of flexibility and agency to try things, take weird chances like “going to Edinburgh.”
It’s exciting to know that my best is ahead of me and also daunting to think about all the steps between now and then — especially considering how big my current challenges feel.
But it beats having my best work behind me!