Tag Archives: comedian

The Legendary Robin Williams, Dead at 63

The whole world was shocked by the news that Robin Williams, all-time great comedian and performer, died at the age of 63 yesterday from an apparent suicide.

“An investigation into the cause, manner and circumstances of the death is currently underway by the Investigations and Coroner Divisions of the Sheriff’s Office,” a sheriff’s statement said. “Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia, but a comprehensive investigation must be completed before a final determination is made.”

Williams entertaining the troops with the USO.
Williams entertaining the troops.

Since the news broke, the tweets and posts about Williams have been endless. His incredible generosity and kindness have been cited by numerous celebrity friends, and even President Barack Obama acknowledged the loss in a White House statement:

“Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between.  But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien — but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.  He made us laugh.  He made us cry.  He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most — from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

Williams had performed with the USO in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Williams as Mork with his co-star Pam Dawber in Mork and Mindy
Williams as Mork with his co-star Pam Dawber in Mork and Mindy

Williams, a Julliard-trained performer, found his first big break in the form of Happy Days spinoff Mork and Mindy, on which he played the alien, Mork. During that same time, his stand-up comedy routine was taking off. He was known primarily as a funny man; however, he more than proved his dramatic acting chops by receiving four Oscar nominations in his lifetime: for Good Morning, Vietnam in 1987, Dead Poets Society in 1989, The Fisher King in 1991, and finally, for Good Will Hunting in 1997. It was his portrayal of psychologist Sean Maguire in Hunting that finally landed him a statue.

Williams as Maguire with Good Will Hunting co-star Matt Damon
Williams as Maguire with Good Will Hunting co-star Matt Damon

Other roles for which Williams was known include the Genie in Disney’s Aladdin (a role which eventually resulted in his induction as a “Disney Legend”); Alan Parrish in Jumanji; Armand Goldman in The Birdcage; an adult Peter Pan in Hook; and the titular Mrs. Doubtfire, a role he was set to reprise in a 2015 sequel to the 1993 hit.

His list of credits goes on and on, and there will be four more to add to the list. Williams appears in four films that are currently in post-production, including another installment in the Night at the Museum franchise, in which he plays Teddy Roosevelt.

Williams as Roosevelt in Night at the Museum
Williams as Roosevelt in Night at the Museum

According to both co-stars and audience members alike, Williams’ talent was nothing short of “genius.” Many of his most memorable performances were improvisations. Henry Winkler, aka “the Fonz” from Happy Days, claimed that from Williams’ first rehearsal as Mork, Winkler knew he was “in the presence of greatness.”

Williams was also known for his philanthropy. He was co-founder of the Windfall Organization and, along with Whoopi Goldberg and Billy Crystal, a host of Comic Relief, a charity which raises funds for the homeless.

Williams, Goldberg, and Crystal at Comic Relief
Williams, Goldberg, and Crystal at Comic Relief

According to his media reprensentative, Mara Buxbaum: “(Williams had) been battling severe depression of late.” His death is a tragedy for his family and fans and a reminder of a serious problem. If you or anyone you know is battling with depression or thoughts of suicide, please seek help by learning about symptoms and solutions on a site such as Help Guide, or contact the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

By Digital Film Academy Blog Manager Sara McDermott Jain.

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The NBC Shortcuts Experience!

short cuts logoIn August 2013, I attended the NBC Short Cuts film festival. This is an event that was created to showcase the work of a variety of artists from diverse backgrounds who might not otherwise get much exposure.

At first, I was wary of anything NBC. The last time I’d been involved with them was for Stand Up for Diversity, a comedy event giving each comic one minute to make an audience laugh and impress the executives. If you impress everyone, you move on and go to their reality show for comics.

Standup-for-Diversity-Logo.jpg.600x242_q100

Any stand-up comedian would know one minute is pretty difficult. My dark humour did not go over with the judges. I guess they didn’t like pedophile and wheelchair jokes. Especially the guy in the audience who was in the wheel chair about whom I made the joke.

I digress. I’d never been to a film festival before and since it was my favorite price – free – I decided to give it a go. First thing that caught my eye was the bar with no bartenders. I found this odd. Just display drinks. So, in a moment of thirst, I stole one.

Once inside, I watched incredible short films. Since each film was a different genre, I went through a series of emotions. One film would have me laughing, and the next would have me horrified. By the 7th film, I had a taste of what it was like to be manic depressive. I had hit the spectrum of emotions lottery. Therefore, each film was effective.

Craig Robinson (center) with festival finalists.
Craig Robinson (center) with festival finalists.

At the ending of the films, I went back into the lobby. As if run by a Suddenly Salad commercial, there were snacks and bartenders. I then realized I had stolen free soda. I got to talk to Hannibal Buress, a comedian, and Steve Caple who was the recipient of the audience award for his incredible short, “A Different Tree.” I am starting to use Twitter for contacts, and I ended up tweeting back and forth with Hannibal Buress, asking him for a reference so I can get an Internship at Comedy Central. I have yet to convince him, but will keep on trying.

All in all, I will definitely go again next year and glad this program exists. Any young filmmaker in NYC should take advantage of the opportunity!

By Digital Film Academy Student Blogger Harley Page

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