NEW YORK (AP) - The question from a fan in a Sirius XM interview last year was innocent - what do you think you’d be doing if you didn’t become a comedian? - and within seconds Robin Williams was impersonating physicist Stephen Hawking getting a lap dance at a strip club.
“Now don’t sit on the keyboard!” Williams said, coaxing laughs from a few dozen people in a Manhattan studio.
How did he get there? Explaining it would take twice as long as it took to actually happen. Would anyone else in the world have made such a leap?
Not a chance. Williams, who died in an apparent suicide Monday, was a comic force of nature. The world got to know him as the wild alien in “Mork & Mindy,” a comedian who elevated improvisation to an art form and also demonstrated a rare versatility in more serious roles. He moved seamlessly from comedy to drama to tragedy to comedy again during a Hollywood heyday in the 1980s and 1990s. His Academy Award as a supporting actor in “Good Will Hunting” came in a drama.
In 1997, Entertainment Weekly magazine named Williams the funniest man alive, and the very next year listed him as one of the world’s 25 best actors - a double distinction that made him rare, if not unique.