Thursday, August 28, 2014

Robin Williams Was Demanding

Artists can be very demanding in their requirements of the venue where they perform. Many well-known performers demand certain things be just right before they step on stage. Indeed, it is well known people like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones, to name just a few require certain types of foods, bottled water, alcohol and other staples be just right whenever they perform.

Robin Williams had certain demands written into his contracts that not many people know about. The other day, I found this piece on my Facebook friend Amie from Plano, Texas page that reads like this:

A Little Known Robin Williams Story:

“Years ago I learned a very cool thing about Robin Williams, and I couldn’t watch a movie of his afterward without thinking of it. I never actually booked Robin Williams for an event, but I came close enough that his office sent over his rider.

For those outside of the entertainment industry, a rider lists out an artist’s specific personal and technical needs for hosting them for an event- anything from bottled water and their green room to sound and lighting requirements. You can learn a lot about a person from their rider. This is where rocks bands list their requirement for green M&Ms (which is actually a surprisingly smart thing to do).

This is also where a famous environmentalist requires a large gas-guzzling private jet to fly to the event city, but then requires an electric or hybrid car to take said environmentalist to the event venue when in view of the public.

When I got Robin Williams’ rider, I was very surprised by what I found. He actually had a requirement that for every single event or film he did, the company hiring him also had to hire a certain number of homeless people and put them to work.

I never watched a Robin Williams movie the same way after that. I’m sure that on his own time and with his own money, he was working with these people in need, but he’d also decided to use his clout as an entertainer to make sure that production companies and event planners also learned the value of giving people a chance to work their way back.

I wonder how many production companies continued the practice into their next non-Robin Williams project, as well as how many people got a chance at a job and the pride of earning an income, even temporarily, from his actions.

He was a great multiplier of his impact. Let’s hope that impact lives on without him. Thanks, Robin Williams- not just for laughs, but also for a cool example.”

Reposted with permission from

We have all heard of Robin Williams mental health issues and his dealing with depression these last few weeks since his death. We have also heard of many of the philanthropic things he did and how close he was to Christopher Reeve. They went way back to being classmates at Juilliard.

When we think of Robin Williams, we think of an unbelievable talent who made us laugh out loud because we never knew what was coming next. His improvisational skills will never be repeated.

I was fortunate to see him in concert twice. It was a nonstop, energy filled ninety-minute exhibition of sheer comic genius. From start to finish he was going one hundred miles an hour. We did not know what had been written and what he was improvising. He was a true talent in front of an audience. 

I wanted to post this piece to show you another side of a very complex individual. Can you imagine what some people had to go through to step out of their comfort zone and hire homeless people to work for their companies?

The thing is he has been doing extraordinary things for other people his entire life. I recorded The Late Show with David Letterman on August 18th to see Bruce Willis and what antics he was going to pull. I just watched it the other day and Letterman did a tribute to Robin Williams before he brought Bruce Willis out. You could see how difficult it was for David letterman attimes when talking about his good friend of roughly four decades.

Robin Williams appeared as a guest on Dave's shows fifty times! Letterman said the fun thing about having Robin Williams on as a guest was he (Letterman) knew he did not have to do anything that night. He would just introduce Robin Williams, and Williams would take it from there. Letterman would just sit back and watch a comic genius do his thing.

At one point, Letterman showed this picture and made humorous comments about how all of the starving comedians back in the early days were trying to do their routines and how awestruck they were when Robin Williams took the stage.

Richard Pryor was already well established and he came to the Comedy Store to hone his skills every once in a while. Mitzi Shore ran the club. David Letterman was a young comedian making his way and then there was Robin Williams doing the same thing.

David Letterman said Robin Williams was in the same boat as all the rest of those comedians at that stage of their careers trying to become better and get discovered. He made one comment something like, we all stunk and after watching Williams do his bit Letterman said we all felt even worse about ourselves because we were comparing ourselves to the improvisational comic genius of Robin Williams. The tribute was very fitting and touching. It was interesting as you could tell Dave was fighting off the tears by the end.

Click on this image to make it larger:

Hopefully, if anything good can come out of Robin Williams' suicide, it will be an increased awareness and action to properly address depression and mental health issues in our healthcare system.

R.I.P. funny man. 

As always, I look forward to your comments.




Colleen M. Patrick said...

Robin Willaim's legacy is indeed that of a compassionate caring individual. We can only hope his untimely death will shine the spotlight on the terrors of mental health and how it affects so many. Lots of great information about this very mult-faceted human being in your blog.

Julie said...

Well said ...