The house that was the exterior scene from “Mork and Mindy” was around the corner and a couple blocks down from my billet in Boulder; I’d ride by it on my way to campus or downtown most days. You can imagine what the Hollywood set (where most of it was filmed) must have been like, and how often Williams departed from the script.
The best description of genius I’ve ever heard is “a zig-zag streak of lightning in the brain.” It was made in reference to Winston Churchill, who hated train platforms because he was always tempted to throw himself in front of one and end things. He was famous for his “black dog” of depression; I always suspected Robin Williams had a black bear. His “zig-zag streak of lightning in the brain” was palpable. He wasn’t a person of comic imagination who merely thought up jokes. He was way beyond that. You could see his comic genius (wit is not an adequate word for it) explode in his head right in front of you. What else exploded in his head? Surely a lot–more than he could hope to explain to anyone.
In my notice of the passing of Jonathan Winters last year, I mentioned that Robin Williams thought Winters the best improv comic of his generation. Winters, too, suffered bouts of severe depression. “60 Minutes” once captured Williams and Winters together:
Plus, as a special bonus, Williams’s great scene about the Declaration of Independence from Moscow on the Hudson: