OK. One Quote from Robin Williams

I hate the concept of “news jacking” which is what I’m about to do here.

We all grew up on Robin Williams so this is very sad. I know he did a ton of movies, etc but the real thing that stands out for someone my age is Mork & Mindy.

All my friends knew how great that show was. We’d all quote it on the school bus the next day. None of us knew or even understood the insane amount of talent that went into that show.

I only learned yesterday that although almost all sitcoms are shot using three cameras, they actually hired a fourth camera to just follow Robin Williams around to capture all of his improvised moments.

Then they would leave entire blank pages in the script for Robin Williams so he could do his improvising.

I don’t think that ever had been done before. I wish I knew then to study all the subleties of what he was doing on that show.

So many mentors leave us and only then do I wish I had learned more, studied more, appreciated even more the gifts they effortlessly shared, often without the real rewards they deserved.

Comedian Jim Norton said it well yesterday, “There is no way Robin Williams could have seen himself the way everyone else saw him. What terribly sad and frustrating news.”

A few months ago, Kamal Ravikant and I were comparing notes. He told me he was going to take my advice before a talk and listen to standup comedy before speaking at an event.

Before an event I’ll mix it up a bit. Before the last event I spoke at I listened to Louis CK (for the observational humor), Andy Samberg’s Harvard speech (for aburdist), Amy Schumer, Marina Franklin (they are great at connecting with the audience), and Bo Burnham (totally aburdist), JImmy Fallon (for his energy).

I would psycho listen to all of them and then repeat starting about 36 hours before the speech I had to give.

The idea is that the mirror neurons in the brain would make me a better speaker by closely following not only their style of humor but also their body language, their ways of connecting to the audience, their pauses, the inflections in their voices, their mannerisms that took years or even decades to develop and get just right.

Kamal told me he was going to follow my advice but before his talks he was going to listen to Robin Williams standup shows from the 70s.

I thought about that. Should I listen to Williams also before a talk? The frenetic way Robin Williams would go from character to character, how he would just jump through the audience and improvise based on everything he saw.

I considered listening to Williams also before giving a talk but decided not to. It felt like almost too much energy for me.

How could you bottle that energy up for a talk? Maybe it would be too un-caged. I wouldn’t know what to do with all the energy. So I stuck with the list above.

But two quotes from Williams I totally related to when he describes his own process:

1) “You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”

Hmm, I had another quote but maybe that one is good enough.

And next time, Kamal, I’m going to follow your advice.

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