Fly, Be Free!

12 August, 2014 | | No Comment

Robin Williams has said “Fuck it” for the last time. 

I was all of 9 years old when Mork and Mindy hit the television.  Along with much of the rest of America, I practiced sitting on my head, drinking through my thumb, and answering questions with a cheery “Nanoo Nanoo!”  He was the funniest person I’d ever seen, and I wanted to be like him.

By the time I got to college, I’d been introduced to George Carlin, Billy Crystal, and a dozen more – and Robin Williams was still the funniest person I’d ever seen.  His stand up routines and shows were so far out there, and yet still so close to the heart.  He made us laugh until we cried, and then made us laugh until we thought. 

Last night, we watched Good Morning Vietnam, as a memorial.  The kids lacked the context of the Vietnam War era, but it otherwise stood up well.  (“Da-Nang me, Da-Nang me, why don’t you get a rope and hang me?”) 

There are so many:  The Fisher King.  Patch Adams.  Good Will Hunting – which we would have watched, but no one was streaming it and I don’t – yet – have a copy.  Aladdin – and it became real for the Reigning Queen of Pink when I explained that Adrian Cronauer was also the Genie from Aladdin, and he was dead. 

One of my many, many favorite scenes was actually from Mork and Mindy.  He’s just made Mindy a sandwich, trying to cheer her up and make her feel better, and he turns to offer her the plate.  “Sandwich?” he asks.  She shakes her head, not feeling up to it, and he holds it out again, saying, “It’s very clean – untouched by human hands?”  That bit, it turns out, wasn’t in the script, and Pam Dawber visibly lost it, trying desperately to stay with the role while she cracked up laughing.  Between that and the whole bit with throwing the eggs into the air (“Fly! Be free!”) – only to watch in horrified confusion as they crashed back to the ground and shattered – he didn’t have to say anything.  The look on his face captured his inhuman confusion so well that we all laughed. 

Fly, Robin.  Be free.  Nanoo Nanoo.

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