Robin Williams (1951-2014) Performs Unknown Shakespeare Play in 1970s Standup Routine

The Academy Award-winning actor and comedian Robin Williams died earlier today. He apparently committed suicide after dealing with a serious and long bout of depression. His wife, Susan Schneider, released a statement saying, “This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings.” “As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions.” And that’s just what we’re inclined to do today. As is our custom, we’re bringing you back to 1977, when Williams, just a year out of Juilliard — and before he got his big break on Mork & Mindy — appeared on an HBO show spotlighting new comedic talent. At the 4:56 mark, where the video above begins, Williams performs a comic take on what he calls “Shakespeare’s only unknown play, “So That’s The Way You Lick It.” It was hardly his only riff on the Bard. For another manic bit, you need only to listen to “A Meltdowner’s Nightmare”, from his 1979 album, Reality … What a Concept. If you were born after 1980, you might want to look up Three Mile Island to get the joke. We’ll miss you Robin.

Quick update: To get a feel for where Robin Williams was in life, you might want to listen to Marc Maron’s long interview with Williams recorded back in 2010. In it, Williams talks candidly (also jokingly) about the inner-demons he was dealing with — drugs, alcohol, suicidal thoughts, etc. Of course, there’s plenty of talk about comedy along the way.

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George Carlin on the Tonight Show (1966)

20-Year-Old Louis CK Performs Stand Up (1987)

Watch an Exuberant, Young Woody Allen Do Live Stand Up on British TV (1965)

Free Online Shakespeare Courses: Primers on the Bard from Oxford, Harvard, Berkeley & More


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