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    Long Live the Laughter

    karenBy Karen Williams

    As the nation mourns our comedy giant’s untimely death, as the memories of his generosity wash over us, as we accept the loss of the comic genius that was Robin Williams, there is just cause to reflect on the meaning of laughter and humor in our everyday lives…as well as our expectations of those who seem to be the very embodiment of chuckles, giggles, and raucous laughs.

    There is a reason that we reference having a “sense of humor,” because it is as important to human beings as our other senses. One who appears not to have a sense of humor may as well be among the living dead, for its absence lends a morbid sensibility and stock seriousness that separates and isolates. Many humorists and comedy masters live and thrive on that dangerous precipice of irony, fully understanding that that which makes us laugh may also cause us deep sorrow. That joy and pain live side-by-side is the stuff of rhythm and blues tunes and lies at the base of many a comic’s routine.

    new_karen2Comedy is one of those transformational arts that permits its users to turn poison into medicine, a metaphor for changing that which will kill us into something that will heal. That is why so many comics, humorists, and character actors are able to take the tragic and challenging parts of their lives and share them with their audiences, fully frontal and with no holds barred. Every stand-up comic performing today owes their stage presentation to the late great Richard Pryor, whose stream-of-consciousness style is the foundation upon which all of our careers have been erected. Richie drank truth-telling serum and inspired us to do the same. We drank the ‘Kool-Aid’ and there was no going back.

    Robin Williams was no exception. Robin pushed the envelope even further—promoting his wild improvisational wizardry on television, in movies, and in comedy clubs. If you saw Robin Williams live, you knew you were in the presence of high-energy genius. When I saw him perform in a small club in Westwood, California, I felt the air in the room fizz with electric molecular brain energy and dynamism that stayed with me for days. I wondered how the heck he could talk so fast, riff at lightning speed, and still leave time for us to laugh really hard with few breaths in between.

    new_karenThere will be endless stories of the way that Robin touched so many people’s lives, especially comics in the San Francisco Bay Area whom he loved, supported and so generously nurtured. He set the bar high for himself and adjusted it for you to assuage your doubts and lack of confidence or experience. His role in the world of comedy is and will remain untouchable. Robin Williams is a true comedy icon.

    And yet, it is the man who will be missed. May we continue to admire his work, to learn from the way that he lived his life, full of his own personal challenges that he fought with the prescription that works for so many of us. Do for others! Give of yourself to others! Open up pathways for others! And laugh, laugh, laugh!!!

    Thank you Robin…for all of the laughs that you shared with the world and me. I am proud to call myself a “comic” and to enjoy the comedy lineage that you so freely shared in the Bay Area. One of my goals at the beginning of my career was to be a “happy comic” and, with your passing, I will continue to keep that dream alive, savoring life’s journey and hungrily sharing all the laughs I can in the wake of your reign. Namaste!

    Karen Williams loves to laugh, though she cries from time to time…with good reason! http://www.hahainstitute.com/