Russell Brand's Take on Robin Williams Will Break Your Heart All Over Again

8/12/2014 11:10 AM PDT, by
Robin Williams
' death has hit us all extremely, incredibly hard, and that's just a fact. There's sadness and confusion and probably a whole bunch of "Mork and Mindy" marathons going on today, but you know what might be nice? To hear some beautiful words from Russell Brand, a man who actually has a bit in common with Robin. Russell has, like Robin, struggled with addiction and depression and being a famous funny person throughout all that. And that's why this essay he wrote about Robin is going to just rip your heart out and make you really think about all this.

Russell wrote about his impression of Robin's comedy:

"Robin Williams was exciting to me because he seemed to be sat upon a geyser of comedy. Like he didn’t manufacture it laboriously within but had only to open a valve and it would come bursting through in effervescent jets. He was plugged into the mains of comedy. I was aware too that this burbling and manic man-child that I watched on the box on my Nan’s front room floor with a Mork action figure (I wish I still had that, he came in a plastic egg) struggled with mental illness and addiction. The chaotic clarity that lashed like an electric cable, that razzed and sparked with amoral, puckish wonder was in fact harvested madness. A refinement of an energy that could turn as easily to destruction as creativity."

And his thoughts on the tragedy of his suicide:

"Poor Robin Williams, briefly enduring that lonely moment of morbid certainty where it didn’t matter how funny he was or who loved him or how many lachrymose obituaries would be written ... He obviously dealt with a pain that was impossible to render and ultimately insurmountable, the sentimentality perhaps an accompaniment to his childlike brilliance ... Robin Williams could have tapped anyone in the western world on the shoulder and told them he felt down and they would have told him not to worry, that he was great, that they loved him. He must have known that. He must have known his wife and kids loved him, that his mates all thought he was great, that millions of strangers the world over held him in their hearts, a hilarious stranger that we could rely on to anarchically interrupt, the all-encompassing sadness of the world. Today Robin Williams is part of the sad narrative that we used to turn to him to disrupt."

And finally, this touching closing:

"What I might do is watch Mrs Doubtfire. Or Dead Poets Society or Good Will Hunting and I might be nice to people, mindful today how fragile we all are, how delicate we are, even when fizzing with divine madness that seems like it will never expire."

This is going to be sad for a while, guys, but Russell's plan at the end there just might help a little. 

For more tributes and insight, see the links below:

"Mrs. Doubtfire" star breaks her silence on the passing of her beloved stage father
Robin Williams' most touching performances
Norm Macdonald shares amazing, heartrending story about first meeting Williams
Heartless Fox News anchor calls Robin Williams a "coward" over suicide
Republican politician uses Williams' suicide to gain votes
What heaven is like, according to Robin Williams
Tell-tale signs nobody seemed to notice that led to the suicide of Robin Williams
Robin Williams, 63, found dead in apparent suicide

Filed Under:  Robin Williams , Russell Brand

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jason alexzander
657 days ago

Ah Robin, I'm so sorry the earth couldn't stay worthy of you. Hope happiness awaits you. j. a.

1 Reply
657 days ago

I watched Mrs. Doubtfire last night and laughed my head off (again). I tried to believe that amazing man who was so incredibly funny is no longer on the earth but I simply couldn't wrap my head around that concept. The moment I saw the by-line on CNN that Robin Williams was dead, I burst into inconsolable tears. Of course, I didn't know him and I certainly knew about all the demons he fought so hard to overcome all his life. But he was someone I could always count on to make me laugh no matter how terrible the world was spinning out of control. Who did he turn to when he needed that comfort? When you're at the top of the "comfort chain", I guess there wasn't anywhere else for him to go where he could get help for himself. Robin Williams was one of a kind and will never be replaced. I'm so glad he was part of my life.

657 days ago

I just tear up when I read the beautiful words of strangers telling how much they loved Mr Robin Williams. How he made them laugh, how he made us laugh. I too am very sad over his passing. Ive felt other actors deaths, but not as much as Mr Robin Williams passing. He was a one in a million.. The happiness, the laughter he brought us all was genuine. Its difficult to understand, but I guess we all have our own demons we fight inside of us. God rest his soul..

Mr Williams, I hope you have found the freedom you so sought.

657 days ago

Russell is such a thoughtful man. What a wonderful tribute. Makes me sad that someone like Robin Williams couldn't see any purpose in going on with his life. I have been down in life before and have had thoughts that it isn't worth it, but something always saved me, mostly my kids (although admittedly, I have medicated myself quite a bit in my life), to not have something to save you when you are so adored has to be a horrible place to be. I hope somehow this brought him peace, but there is no way to know that. That is what is tragic here

657 days ago

I want to cry b/c it feels good to do it. You are in the arms of angels , it feels good to say it. Behind the smile was dis-pare. He felt Dis-repair... so he fixed it . We Will Never Forget You Robin ... Never...

Joe Fotz
657 days ago

He was a selfish drug addict.

Suicide is the most selfish act.

3 Replies
657 days ago

What powerful words from Russell!- very eloquently written- thank you for sharing. RIP Robin

657 days ago

Russell Brand,that was extremely touching. What a sad time this is!

Glen Peterson
656 days ago

Feel free to use as desired with proper credits.

I had the honor of seeing Robin Williams in two of his “live” performances. Neither was in a Comedy Club, not a television special nor theater production. Both happened “impromptu” on the street, as it were, once in San Francisco and once again in Jackson, WY.
It is not very well known by the general public that Robin Williams was a street performer in N.Y.C. and in San Francisco. Many also don’t know that these came after his training at Julliard. These performances were usually “on-the- spot” banter with his audience, for whatever donations he might earn. I doubt that they were always planned. When people were around he would simply feed off laughter, his body and actions moving at seemingly 100 m.p.h. But I personally think his mind was a good deal faster.
My first encounter was in the late 70’s, having attended high school in the Bay Area. My friends and I had made a weekend day trip up to the city, as we often did, to roam the streets and grab a bite at the hundreds of famous and no-so-famous eateries that have always been part of that truly unique city. While walking near Fisherman’s Wharf we saw a large crowd of people encircling one young man. We wedged our way in and, sadly in hindsight, caught only the tail end of one of Robin’s frequent sessions.
At the time, we did not know who we were watching, only that the man before us was like a burning fuse, sizzling away, full of heat and leading to some magic explosive ending, as always, in laughter. He was well known back then, not by name but by reputation and tales passed on from those who were lucky enough to catch his act. San Francisco is famous for its street performers like “The Human Jukebox”, the “Bushman” and the “San Francisco Mime Troup”, among many others.
But on that day I remember seeing this young wiry man, with tons of body hair, sweating profusely as he moved around the circle that had surrounded him as the act went on. He wore a bright yellow and red striped shirt, reminiscent of “Where’s Waldo” style and bright green, baggy pants. I think he wore high top tennis shoes but that perception comes only from the short glimpse we had.
He had an incredible talent for moving from person to person and latching on to some un-noticed article of clothing or personal feature of the person he played off of. Sometimes it was a hat, a purse, even a hairstyle… nothing seemed off limits. He would tease, make fun of or insult his target in the audience and where you or I would probably get clobbered for the remark that he would often make, he received only laughter. He had an incredible gift that allowed him to say or do nearly anything but he did it in a way that always broke down the usual barriers of personal space or individuality.
As I said, we caught only a few moments of that day’s unique performance. I believe that the performances had to be un-rehearsed from those who told of encounters. No one was capable of rehearsing the kind wit he displayed. I have never seen anyone quicker of mind or speedier with a quip. To this day we had arrived obviously too late for soon after our arrival he raised his hands and thanked everyone and moved over to a nearby bench where, on this particular day, there lay a hat and where the audience now stood in line to fill with spare change, dollar bills and even larger notes. Even then, as well wisher gathered around he continued drawing laughter in loud and frequent succession.
As we continued on to our restaurant of choice that day we laughed and talked about what we had seen and others shared their anecdotes from previous run-ins. No one knew his name at the time. But I remember a few years later pointing excitedly at my TV when I saw my first episode of “Mork and Mindy” and I told my then wife how I had seen this “crazy” actor working the wharf in my old stomping grounds.
That was the adjective generally used back then to describe this wild and infectious man, a master of ad-lib. There are a lot of comedians in Hollywood today that are recognized for their ability for on-the-spot humor. But I’m sorry to say, no one today even comes close to the young man I saw that day.
My second encounter with this “madman” happened purely by accident a half a dozen years later. I was living in Jackson Hole, WY. And one sunny afternoon I was walking the raised boardwalk pathway down the street that encircled the streets and shops surrounding the town square when, once again, I saw a small crowd of people gathered around, this time in front of the main window of the local Laundromat.
Even in Jackson Hole, where we locals were used to seeing strange goings on by the tourists, this seemed odd to me even by those standards. I crossed the street and found a place to peer into the window. There, standing near a row of dryers was Robin, doing his personal laundry. At first, he seemed oblivious to the crowd outside, but soon he glanced towards the window and gave everyone a huge grin. Then I remember seeing a quick exchange of pantomime as he rolled his head around exaggeratingly as if he were trying to catch a glimpse of his underwear, or something. Then he quickly opened the door of the dryer next to his and stood behind the window and played as if he were being tossed inside. The crown laughed, as did I. Then I did something that now I am so sorry I did after hearing of his passing yesterday on the news… I chose to walk away.
You see, it was sort of an unwritten rule of the locals of that small town that we weren’t to bother the many celebrities that came to vacation in what my Dad always called “God’s Country”. We prided ourselves on our being a strong part of the reason that so many people back then chose to visit. The town needed tourism, especially that of the very wealthy and we didn’t want to scare away our regular guests. During the years that I lived there I personally ran into Diane Keaton once at dinner (I know, I’m name-dropping). My step-mother told me stories of her encounter with Harrison Ford, as he brought a small briefcase, supposedly full of cash, to pay for his large land purchase. These and many other tales of famous people “mingling” with the locals were commonplace. Presidents, actors, sports figures and every other manner of celebrity would visit the town and the nearby parks of Grand Teton and Yellowstone.
I was proud of myself back then of leaving the man alone to do his personal chores by himself. But now, I feel sad. Sad, because I know I missed something. For as I walked away I remember hearing burst upon burst of uproarious laughter, always growing as more and more tourists gathered around to catch a glimpse of what we now know as “pure genius”.
So today I sit here with a heavy heart. I wish I could have seen more of this remarkable man. We, as mere mortals, can only guess as to what demons led a man of this ability, wealth and fame to choose to quietly leave this world of his own accord. It doesn’t seem real as I sit here at my computer remembering how this incredible man seemed to thrive in the spotlight, even that of a corner sidewalk, or the inside of a dingy laundromat. I want to call out and ask him…
“Robin, where are you going?” The crowd is still around! Can’t you see them all now?”
As always, it’s a standing ovation for a man, unique among all others for his ability to touch, tell a story, act out a scene or simply tickle our proverbial funny bone. The world is collectively applauding now, many with tears running down their cheeks. But all of us with a smile on our faces, or at minimal within our hearts, for a truly great human being.
Yesterday, I read a quote from an unknown poster that “Heaven just got a whole lot funnier!” That may turn out to be true. But here on Earth many, like me are a bit empty and sad to say that…
Robin Williams has left the building.

Glen Peterson
Carlisle, PA
Copyright 2014

1 Reply
656 days ago

With all "due" respect, Russell Brand can use all the eloquent words available in his thesaurus, but he still isn't qualified to comment on the life of the genius that was Robin Williams.

656 days ago

Typical Brand word vomit. My goodness this guy is a walking thesaurus but not in a good way at all. I felt nothing but confusion reading those statements. No feeling just intellect run amok. Russell tries so hard to sound clever. I find his writing to be self absorbed rambling nonsense.

fred Gregory Holt
656 days ago

Last night while watching tmz on channel two ktvu Oakland/ San Francisco around 11:30 p.m. TMZ had a real tacky, insensitive piece on the 45th anniversary of the Tate-Labianca murders. You presented it in a mocking manner toward Sharon Tate especially and how they had a senance adjacent to the Tate residence on the anniversary of the murders. And how the smoke alarms went off. Tmz referred to Sharon as one pissed off individual and you proceeded to show a cartoon-like photo of Charles Manson sticking his tonque out at Ms. Tate. How horribly disrespect toward her memory I realize most of your staff wasn't even born when this horrific crime happened. It showed TMZ in a very cold-blooded light. Grow up.

656 days ago

Amen, Russell...beautiful...and every word so true. It touched me, personally, because I lost my absolute favorite person in the world, my little brother, to suicide 2 years ago. Depression is such a misunderstood disease. People that have never experienced it can never truly understand the pit of despair. Like you stated, that he could have asked ANYONE for help, that so many people loved him, besides obviously the deep love from his wife and children...but, when someone is at that point, it just doesn't matter...My brother was a father of 3 children, and like Mr. Williams, had a sense of humor that couldn't be topped in my one else has made me laugh until my face actually hurt, and don't know if anyone else ever will. I understand why some people have stated that it was a "cowardly" and "selfish" thing to do...I had those feelings sometimes, as well, but it's just not the case...I've learned to understand that I was the selfish one, expecting my brother to stay, for ME, even though he was in so much pain. Thank you so much for what you've written...I hope many people see it, and gain a little understanding and compassion. Bless you....

656 days ago


655 days ago

For a greater reality perspective on depression and suicide, please read:

What Is the Spiritual Perspective On Suicide? | Big Picture Questions