When the world suddenly lost Robin Williams in August at the age of 63, friends and fans of the comedian were heartbroken. So was Billy Crystal, his longtime pal and comic cohort. Here, Crystal bids farewell to his dear friend by imagining Williams doing stand-up for the most heavenly audience.
“If heaven exists, to know that there’s laughs, that would be a great thing…”
—Robin Williams, Inside the Actors Studio
For you, Robin…
Aug. 18, 2014
FADE IN; HEAVEN IN ALL ITS BEAUTY. WE ARE MOVING THROUGH CLOUDS AND STARS AS WE HEAR THE SOUNDS OF SOME SORT OF ROCK MUSIC AND THE MURMUR OF AN EXCITED AUDIENCE GETTING LOUDER. AS THE CLOUDS PART WE PUSH IN ON A DOOR THAT SAYS “THE BIG ROOM.” IT OPENS, A MAN (STEVE RUBELL) MOTIONS FOR US TO COME IN.
Beautifully decorated, a celestial theme dominates. The ceiling is a mass of twinkling stars. The room is jammed, anybody who was anybody is there filling tables and banquettes and a balcony: Waiters and waitresses with small wings scurry to tables bringing libations. Excitement, anticipation…the lights dim…
The crowd goes crazy…..DRUM ROLL.
DON PARDO (V.O.): Please welcome to the Big Room making his heavenly debut, Robin Williams!
Huge ovation from the enormous crowd that seems to go on forever. A spotlight finds Robin as he enters. He strikes many poses as he runs across the stage at times grabbing himself. He looks at the enormous crowd…
ROBIN: Oh my, please stop hovering and sit down! Amazing, it’s Woodstock with wings! (in a child’s voice) I don’t think I’m in Kansas anymore! (as John Wayne) Well, Pilgrims, as the frontier gynecologist said to the pretty lady, “You got a nice spread.”… Please don’t be afraid.
Crowd is already his. He roams the stage looking at the folks sitting ringside.
ROBIN (CONT’D): (as Bob Hope) This is wild…you kids here with the wings and the halos…this is like Da Nang meets Lady Gaga! (now in his own voice) Look at all of you, who’s that sitting in the balcony? Oh, Mr. Lincoln?
Abraham Lincoln, sitting in an opera box, smiles and waves.
ROBIN (CONT’D): Wanna know how the play ended? Spoiler alert, spoiler alert!
Lincoln doubles over, the crowd roars.
ROBIN (CONT’D): Oh my, he’s sitting with Lena Horne! Honest, Abe, (quickly) I know cheap but effective, you did pretty good for yourself, first the penny, now Ms. Horne, (singing) “Stormy Weather”… wow, you are so beautiful… (grabbing himself) The Emancipation Ejaculation. Don’t be afraid, so this is heaven?
VOICE: Well, it sure ain’t Iowa!
Big laugh from the audience. Robin peers through the spotlight.
ROBIN: Oh my, is that Burt Lancaster?
He rushes over and shakes Burt’s extended hand.
ROBIN (CONT’D): Man, when Burt Lancaster gets laughs it must be heaven…I know what you’re thinking, Burt, but Kirk isn’t ready yet. What a night, how much money have we raised so far???
He moves around the stage searching the crowd. He finds a stoic-looking couple.
ROBIN (CONT’D): Oh, sad faces, there’s always a few. Let me guess: comedy development at CBS? I know you’re not the Rosenbergs.
Big laugh as he moves on and finds a young girl.
ROBIN (CONT’D): OH MY GOD. You’re…
GIRL: Anne Frank.
ROBIN: Good to get out, isn’t it? Anne, is it true that being Jews, on Sunday nights you would get Chinese food…takeout? (whispering as Otto Frank making a phone call with a German accent) Yes, kung pao chicken, spare ribs, and fried rice for eight…and leave it by the bookcase…
Huge laugh: He reaches out to her, they hold hands for a second, and she blows him a kiss. He moves on to a white-haired man.
ROBIN (CONT’D): Oh no, it can’t be…you are my hero. Greatest mind of the 20th century and I can’t remember your name…
Big laugh, he’s rolling…
MAN: Albert Einstein.
ROBIN: Al, wanna know my theory of relativity? Never lend relatives money ’cause you won’t get it back.
They shake hands as Einstein laughs and shakes his head as if to say, “He’s right.” Robin is in the audience now, someone comes up behind him, puts his hands over his eyes.
JONATHAN WINTERS: (as Maude Frickert) Guess who, baby boy?
ROBIN: Elaine Stritch?
Robin turns and throws himself at Jonathan.
ROBIN (CONT’D): Jon! Oh, Jon, you’re the first one I wanted to see…(Southern voice) ‘Cuz, Clem, that truck you sold me had a squirrel in the gas tank…
JONATHAN WINTERS: (Southern voice) Just marinatin’ him for lunch. We’ll talk later, my fuzzy friend.
They hug, Robin grabs Jonathan’s ass, Winters does a great take, the audience loves it.
ROBIN: (as a stereotypical American Indian) Many moons come, me wonder what is in heaven, now me know. Big crowds and no fire water.
MAN: Hi, Yo!
ROBIN: Except for this guy. Ed McMahon, everyone. Where’s my check?
Ed McMahon is laughing that huge belly laugh and then…
JOHNNY CARSON: Hey, kid…just taping across the hall?
ROBIN: Oh, yeah! The silver fox! This is amazing, I am so happy to see you, Johnny…(holds up his hand and talks with it like Señor Wences with a high-pitched voice) “and I am so happy too, let me say hi…you told me Johnny was God”…
ROBIN (CONT’D): Well, he is to me, (looking around and skyward) I hope “you know who” didn’t hear that or I’ll be audited…
He heads back to the stage shaking hands getting hugs. It is pure joy as he meets an African-American man. He puts his arm around him. Then as if he’s making an announcement…
ROBIN (CONT’D): Martin Luther King, white courtesy phone, Martin Luther King, white courtesy phone…
They hug and Dr. King extends his hand to a man sitting next to him….
ROBIN (CONT’D): Mr. Mandela, don’t be afraid, “I am a Yankee”…
Big laugh. Mandela is all smiles. Robin makes his way to the stage, crowd is loving every second, so is he…
ROBIN: This is amazing, thank you for being so great, I was nervous, sort of like a hemophiliac working in a razor blade factory, but this is beautiful, more than I could hope for, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it.
ROBIN: Hecklers even in heaven, but they mean no harm, not like those dopes on Twitter…
No response; he continues…
ROBIN (CONT’D): Twitter?
VOICE: What’s that?
ROBIN: OH MY GOD, THIS IS HEAVEN!!!! I can’t see you, what is your name?
VOICE: Robin, it’s me, Richard Pryor…
Robin jumps off the stage to embrace Pryor. It is long and emotional.
ROBIN: RICHARD! YOU’RE NOT STILL SMOKING!
RICHARD: Hey, man, say hello to Lenny Bruce. George Carlin you know…sit with us. Sinatra’s on next…
They all hug and Robin jumps on the stage, turns to the crowd.
ROBIN: Be good to your waitress, I’ll be here all week. Wait, I’ll be here!
The audience stands and cheers. He looks around at the beautiful sight, gazes at the starry sky, his eyes glisten.
ROBIN (CONT’D): Heaven, what a concept!
Robin makes his way back and sits with Pryor, Lenny Bruce, and George Carlin; they pat him on the back. He looks around and George Burns nods, as does Groucho. Gilda Radner blows a kiss, and Chaplin tips his derby in respect.
FRANK SINATRA (O.C.): Wow, that cat is something else, baby… Hit it, Jack…(music) “Start spreading the news…”
WE PUSH IN ON ROBIN. HE SEEMS AT PEACE…HE SMILES….