Old Comics Never Die

08/14/14 | By Tommy Chong

I was in Kelowna Canada when my wife told me the sad news about Robin Williams. My first reaction was oh no! What? How? It was a total shock to me because Robin was always so full of life. Whenever he was on television he would be so delightful because he made you laugh and smile. Robin was the world's court jester who would burst ego bubbles of the most powerful men and women regardless of rank or office. His eyes always sparkled even when he was being the second fiddle to the other comics. Robin was always "there' in the moment. Always aware of the situation what ever it was.

My first encounter with Robin was on the set of our movie "Cheech and Chong's Next Movie. It was my first official director's job and we were shooting a music store scene where Red (Cheech's cousin) is trashing the music store. We were shooting on set on the back lot at Universal. I was in the director's chair when I noticed a figure standing in the shadows behind the set. It was Robin. He was shooting Mork and Mindy nearby and had snuck on the set to watch us in action. He could of pulled the celeb card and been escorted on the set to watch in comfort but instead choose to sneak on to see the behind the scene action. It felt like something I would do in fact did do on a few occasions.

My second encounter with this iconic comedian was in Helen's bike shop in Santa Monica. This time we had a face to face encounter where I expressed my joy in meeting the great actor by telling him how much I enjoyed his work. Robin never said a word back to me. He looked frightened and shy. I knew immediately that he was like so many talented people. They don't do "small talk". Johnny Carson had the same vibe. No chit chat with these guys. The price of genius I suppose. And their choice of stimulants, cocaine and alcohol did not help. It probably contributed to their demise. Depression mixed with alcohol is not a good idea as we are still discovering.

The press will look for the cause of death other than the official report.  They will look for someone or something to blame. Some outside influence. A failed marriage. Financial problems. Career downturns. Ad naseum however the truth is Robin is now in the ultimate rehab unit right now and he will be back because we are eternal. Old comics never die so long as we have reruns.