I recently performed at the Throckmorton Theater in Mill Valley, California, my favorite little theater with the best audiences in the country. Robin Williams was in the greenroom. He wasn’t performing. Apparently, he lives nearby and likes to pop in to be around other comics. I met him two other times when I performed at the Throck. I’ve never said anything to him other than “Hi, I’m Maureen,” to which he’s responded, “Hello, I’m Robin.”
Each time I’ve been there, he’s been gracious, holding real conversations with the other comics – some famous like Mort Sahl, others known only to the local comedy community. And each time, I sat back and took it in.
This time I asked Robin if I could ask him a question for my blog, which was ridiculous to ask because I should have just asked the damn question and not asked if I could ask. Sometimes, I forget that I’m not a reporter anymore and still feel a responsibility to ask if a conversation can be “on the record.” I have this thing about respecting people’s privacy. I’d never make it as a journalist today. Sure, I have the cleavage, but I don’t have the blonde hair. Plus, I have standards. Crazy me.
My question wasn’t anything monumental. After hearing too many comics talking about masturbating on their roommate’s computer, I wanted to know: Is comedy different today, more base, than when you were working the clubs?”
“Oh, no,” he said instantly, “there are many terrific comics out there.” He started to name names and then stopped in mid-sentence. “Please don’t repeat that. I don’t want to leave anyone out. There are so many who are good, many who are my friends, and I wouldn’t want to disrespect any of them by forgetting to include them.” Not a word.
He went on to say, “Comedy isn’t different today. It’s always had its low points, but it has its moments that are like listening to great jazz. You walk into a club and you hear someone unique and wonderful and you realize you have come across a talented performer and you think ‘yes there it is!’”
“You really like comics, don’t you?” I said.
“You bet I do.”