The summer of 2014 will be remembered as when the laughter died, quite a bit. Robin Williams and Joan Rivers were lost to such different circumstances.
Joan was so alive, so active in her career; it is said her calendar was full, even that she performed an hour-long standup routine the night before her “routine” throat surgery. She had an ongoing, popular reality show in Fashion Police, had done a number of interviews promoting her new book ( which, I discovered, is not available in any retail outlet right now); and made several recent daytime and late night appearances, where her comic timing was always spot on. She was well past the point of no return with the plastic surgery thing, but always made fun of herself for it and got a lot of laughs in the process.
I saw a very emotional tribute from the ladies on The View. Kristin Chenowith sang a beautiful “gone too soon” kind of song about heaven needing back their angel. While someone who passes in their 80’s can hardly be said to have gone too soon, it was clear that Joan Rivers was not ready to go. The tragic circumstances surrounding her death are still under investigation; seems there might be a lawsuit in the future for the family of this ever-relevant and brilliantly funny human being. The world will certainly miss her; but her death, though tragic, did not send out the shock waves that were produced by the other comic loss of the summer.
Robin Williams chose to go. You could argue that maybe there was no real choice for him. After a lifetime of struggle with “thought cancer”, as someone so eloquently labeled it, he yielded to the demons that would devour anyone, given the chance. His suicide left an open wound in the spirit of those of us who continue in the battle against depressive illness on an ongoing, painfully daily basis.
That he was so very loved; that he was so masterful in his craft, both comic and dramatic; that his unparalleled genius was recognized by professionals and fans alike; that on the surface, he had it all…family, friends,wealth, fame; and yet he still ended himself…that is the very thing that stopped us in our tracks.
It was August, and I have personally written and deleted so many pieces about my thoughts and feelings on his death. It was, and is, just too raw.