Williams' stand-up, and his consequent performances in TV and film comedies, have been characterized by a reliance on speaking extremely quickly, jumping from one subject to the next, and adopting numerous voices (see following section) in the absence of any apparent comic observations or timing.
Legend has it that he got the role in Mork & Mindy because ABC wanted to cash in on his stand-up success, and they thought the best way to explain the fact that he couldn't stop talking in stupid voices and standing on his head was to cast him as an alien.
An exhaustive study carried out by the University of South Carolina in 2013 suggested that, during a TV interview, Williams would adopt a stereotypically black or homosexual voice approximately once every 3.4 minutes, regardless of the context of the converstaion.
According to the study, 63% of his impressions of "Male negro" started with the expression, "Hey maaan", while he favored introducing his "Male Homosexual" character with a camp crossing of the legs and the phrase "Well hello there!"
Mawk and Mindy
During the filming of Good Morning Vietnam, Williams noticed that in some scenes, when he pulled a certain face, he could look really sad. He has since used this expression to bring a cloying mawkishness to every non-manic role of his career.
As he is an excessively hairy bastard, with the arm and chest fuzz of a mountain gorilla, Williams often grows a beard for his dramatic roles, in the vain hope that balancing out his hirsutosity will help him make the change from Mode One (insecure, attention-seeking brat) to Mode Two (whoever heard... of a sad clown?)
The only time he actually succeeded in making anyone cry was during Patch Adams. Many watching the movie - about "the healing power of laughter" - wept as they realized they were watching the nadir of American cinema.
That's the only thing he has ever said that I think comes close to being on the money.
Seth MacFarlane has made numerous references to Williams' shitness in his animated series Family Guy. These include:
Robin Williams (July 21, 1951 – August 11, 2014) was a truly wonderful, unique comic force of nature who left us far too early, another tragic victim of the universal blight on humanity that is depression.
Nobody had ever seen anybody like Robin, and no one ever will. From his first standup gig to his last public performance, his sheer energy radiated in all directions, and he displayed breathless wit, charisma, and an infectious sense of anarchy.
That he came to fame on the back of a cameo as Mork in Happy Days says a lot about the immediate impact Robin made on an audience. Given an unpromising role in a TV show that was clearly on the wane, Robin stole the show - and was duly offered the lead role in Mork & Mindy, a sitcom so funny that many of us wet our pants just thinking about it. Nanu-nanu!
Inspired by trailblazers such as Richard Pryor, Robin was one of the first white comedians to deal with a number of traditionally risqué topics - such as race, drug abuse, and depression. His depiction of a homosexual in The Birdcage received mixed reviews initially, but more sophisticated reviewers have since hailed the subtlety of the performance.
Captain, my Captain
While his primary intent was always to amuse and entertain, Robin expanded his acting skills throughout his career, discovering great dramatic talent, which he showcased in many memorable roles, including Dead Poets Society, One Hour Photo and Good Will Hunting.
In the hours after his death, social networks were flooded with tributes, but many of them - perhaps contrary to expectation - focused on the power of his dramatic roles.
Teachers cited Dead Poets Society as a major inspiration, many white/Asian couples hailed Good Morning Vietnam's sensitive exploration of interracial love, and Scottish transvestites praised the impact of Mrs Doubtfire on the attitudes of football hooligans in Glasgow on a Saturday night.
Despite his many powerful dramatic performances, Robin never made us cry more than on August 11, 2014, when he hanged himself. He had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, and his post-mortem suggested a related form of dementia was a key factor in converting Robin's depression into a fatal, inescapable darkness. Therefore, anyone who says anything horrible about Robin is a massive motherfucker.
Many celebrities around the world spoke of their shock and sadness at the news, with Seth MacFarlane perhaps summing it up the best:
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