The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Ruby Wax Headshot

On Robin Williams

Posted: Updated:

Why is it such an 'out of the blue' experience for everyone that Robin Williams killed himself? Is it because we think if someone's funny they must spend their lives, head thrown back, wheezing away? I know very few comedians who in their real lives have their heads thrown back, it's not funny being funny; it's a killer.

You want to take a rest from the night job; it's like if you're a surgeon, when you're off work, you don't go out with friends and keep operating.

As for Robin Williams, if you're that gifted, and I mean the Einstein of comedy and your brain works at impossible speeds with quantum leaps of imagination, how could you bear to witness yourself as you get older and start slowing down? I just heard today, his wife said he had Parkinson's and didn't want anyone to know so this clearly makes the situation even more abhorrent. When you're able to create that kind of high helium hysteria, you're adored wherever you go in the world, in every time zone, night and day. Eventually, that attention has to get addictive and when it's insidiously pulled away it's probably harder to deal with than coming off crack. If you make someone laugh it's far better than sex, first of all it lasts longer and second, no mess and if you're the best comic there is, you'd be feeling pretty potent and swinging dickish most of the time. Every day all you have to do is open your mouth, let it rip and millions, men and women alike fall at your feet laughing and loving you. Now imagine being 63 and knowing that you're losing speed, your brain can't grasp that 'non sequitur' can't make those synaptic connections sizzle like they used to, how agonizing that would be? Take erectile dysfunction and square it. Worse, those crowds whose eyes once shined at you with love now look disappointed or worse they glimmer with pity.

Many entertainers define themselves by the reflection in the eyes of their audience; their self worth goes up or down depending on the smiles or frowns of the listener. Then add in the bi-polar, meaning you're flying high when you're up; the comedy is flowing like a gushing waterfall and then 'bang' without warning you hit the depths of hell and, boy, can you not go there and still perform.

When you're that talented, you never see the end coming and then you're 63 and the crowds are thinning and the guy interviewing you is faster than you are. This is probably the age a once beautiful woman would go into hiding or start having her face stretched like a bongo drum. A scientist can live to 103 and be worshipped to the end, even win a Nobel Prize, (you have to be over 89). An athlete? I imagine it's pretty hard on you to peak at 21 but then years after you got your gold, if you show up at public engagements no one's expecting you to toss your javelin or vault a pole like you used to do. Everyone remembers your triumphant day and now you can be as boring, as you want and many, many of them are. To the public you were once a hero and that's enough the auditions are over. A model? Well she gets turned into a handbag by the time she's 20 but that's the name of the game. An old opera star can get as fat as a dumpster and still get ovations. But a comedian? And one who was that brilliant? I'll bet if you took any commoner, gave them the ability to breathe out wit at a 1000 MPH and have the world gasp at your every quip, add in the bi-polar, you might consider alternatives i.e. get an addiction to almost anything to blank out the pain, madness, ECT, getting married again, moving to another planet or think about ending it. If you haven't got any other dreams, ambitions or interests and this talent is taken from you, it's just too heart breaking to bear. Sometimes there's a price to having the talent of the Gods (if they were comedians).

Around the Web

Back Then: Robin Williams brightened birthday bash

Robin Williams was addicted to 'tooth-rotting sentimentality', says Barry ...

Nintendo responds to Robin Williams Zelda petition

Parkinson's drugs to blame for Robin Williams' death claims Rob Schneider ...