Season 7, Episode 14
June 10, 2001
September 16, 2008
Himself / Host
Host James Lipton asks Robin a series of wide-ranging questions about his work, life, philosophy, and the film debut of Mr. Happy.
What brought you from Chicago to Detroit? [meaning
"why did you come from Chicago to Detroit?"]
My mother was a Christian Dior Scientist. She was very... she was
really kinda the part of my whole comedy upbringing.
What about your dad?
Oh, very elegant man.
Yeah, very kinda reserved, except after a couple of cocktails. He'd go, you know, very happy. Not like "Wo-hoo, look who's on the table!" No, he would: "What? Do you want a car?!" I'm 5. "OK!"
What's your middle name?
McLaurim. That's Irish.
It is Irish.
Yeah, and then I'm also Welsh, which means every so often I have to occupy myself.
Did you get your degree from Juilliard?
No, I have no degree. I have an honorary degree from Juilliard which is kinda like a nerve vibrator, you know. Nice to look at, but doesn't do a lot. I have no degrees from any colleges yet.
[about his kids, why they are important to him, and why Robin
talked about Zach in "Live at the Met"]
The amazing thing about them is, they're you and they're not you. They're the next step. They're all--He [Zachery] right now is 17, which is a pretty great age. He's very, very handsome. His head is shaved, he looks like a Marine a lot. But why he's important? Same reason. And then there's Cody. Cody is, you know, he is 9. He's very [Robin laughs] he's extraordinary. I told a joke in the car one day. We were riding in the car, he was back... way in the back there with Zelda in the back. We were telling these jokes and all of a sudden I realized: "Oh, he heard it." A week later the teacher called and said, "Your son told a very interesting joke today." And when the teacher said "That was inappropriate," Cody said "Why? My dad told it." And then I'm realizing, "Oh, great." It's like the ghost of my father standing behind me going: [laughing loud] "YES! Revenge is mine!" And then there's Zelda who's 11 and she's... It's a very interesting time too, because she's still a little girl, but she's becoming a girl. And things are changing. And there's the other thing as a father and you're going the same instinct with Zach going "Are you crazy?" It's almost going "Hmm-mm." You have to kinda go, "OK, all right." And there's this whole other challenge. And that's why this was the first time on stage that night I was able to talk about family and him and raising and talk about, you know, the whole process of a child.
In The Fisher King... Mr. Happy at last had his moment in the
sunlight, or if I may say, in the moonlight.
In the moonlight in Central Park? It's always great to be naked in Central Park, my friend.
How and when did you shoot that scene?
We shot it late at night, and it was cold too. [looking at Mr. Happy] "He'll remember." It's great doing your first nude scene on a cold night. [imitating a shrinking Mr. Happy] "Is there a prop man around? Got anything?"
Mike Meyers described himself to us as a site-specific
And an introvert most of the rest of the time.
Wow. No one is more famous than you for free-flight extravertion. Is there an introverted Robin Williams? Does he exist? Oh my God, what have I done.
Don't ask the introverted question. [pretends to be crying]
I'm feeling better. Oh, God. Don't ask that! [normal voice] Yeah, there's a very introverted... there's a kind of a... it's quiet, because you have to be able for me... That's why it's great being in New York, or going to Europe. Especially in Paris, where people are going: [French accent] "I know who you are, I don't give a shit! It's crazy, I know all what you're doing, I see you. Here, look, the baby is smoking, does that make you angry? It doesn't matter to me!" [normal voice] But for me it's great because... it's not just introverted, it's just more like camouflage. Where you can go out, walk around, see things and kinda pick up new stuff. And see new characters and just generally absorb. But introverted, yeah, and quiet and kind of... absorbent is a good word.
The students are always interested in this question: How and
when did you acquire a manager?
Oh, he's here tonight. Please send your resume to David Steinberg. If you can draw a picture of this rabbit! How did I make this much money and have a boat full of beautiful women? Learn to be funny in your spare time!
How was Mork born?
It happened as an audition. I guess Gary Marshall's kid had seen Star Wars and thought there should be an alien on Happy Days.
When Billy Crystal was here he was asked if there's anyone that
[Billy Crystal archive footage]He has a bonelessness and a fearlessness and an exploration of his mind, that you can go "Wow." Look at what he... look at that, you know. Uhm, if I was fast tonight, you know, he'll be faster. [end Billy Crystal archive footage]
All of us admire the lightning-fast reflexes of great athletes. For those of us who have not been blessed with your gift, how do you explain the mental reflexes that you deploy and are deploying tonight with such awesome speed? Are you thinking faster than the rest of us? What the hell is going on?!!!
Jesus. [laughter ] "Damnit man, what's going on with you?!" I... don't know why. What is it with your mind? Try to explain yourself!
[speaking really, really fast in different voices] I come from a deep part inside myself that was actually looking for my mother but then I saw that moment when she looked up there and I went: OK, I'll be funny for her. [gasps] OK, that's fine, work that way. Come back from that and realize after a while, I wanted to be except... you liked me, you really liked me... and no, it's nothing. I can show you I'm trained and actually show you how intelligent I am. I could use a word like "delicatesse" and know what it means. Or "invertebrate." Or "inventorate." Or "degenerate." But all of that... It's all part of it, because of the mind that actually flows like that, because I realize that the human mind is a 3 1/2 pound gland that pumps neurons constantly and deals with itself by responding to stimulus that's why we're designed to do slowly even Darwin is going: "I have hopes, I had such high hopes!" It's all part of it. Because I believe the human mind is adapting and evolving slowly but surely, but I'm trying not to speak that fast, because eventually you have to catch up. But I really do speak that fast because sometimes when the mind is actually really working that well 'cause you actually know THAT: you caught... your breath... you come back. But the ideal is to create something different. Something that moves with the time. No more China Crouching Tiger Hidden CD. Move out away from moment, take microwave open door. Pushing sight. Well, that's as close as I can explain. It's not really an explanation, it's more of a bizarre exploration. But like they used to say it's always strange to try to explain what works, but it's... for me it's... there's a joy in it. It is... it is a drug. It's the joy of... obviously if it wasn't laughter it'd be pretty rough. So it helps reinforces and you get the stimulus and then all of a sudden the really fun thing is, which why it's great to be in front of people that know to play with it. It just pushes you further and further and you'll try stuff and then you really do find yourself, which goes back to that lady that taught the Improv class, to go to the unknown and really explore it.
Is comedy genetic? Can it be taught? Can it be learned?
Well, look at what our studies have shown. As we see the historical roots of comedy we see several Cro-Magnons looking at a group of Neanderthals saying: "How many Neanderthals does it take to light a fire?" The answer is: "None, they don't have it." All right! Is it genetic? Is it in the genes? I found in examining of the comic genes, you find... well, it's a lot like the example of cloning, which is a very strange thing. You think of cloning, the idea of the first cloning experiment, making the exact duplicate of a sheep. Who can tell the fucking difference before? But is it genetic? No, I think it's nature, nurture and another too. I think it's--People, I'm sorry I have to talk like this. Talking like this is rather difficult. I could easily talk like this or talk like Stallone: "Gabllili." But I think--
[woman laughing really loud] Jesus! That's comedy! When you gotta laugh like that, I swear to God! It all of a sudden lets it flow.
I think there's a tendency genetically towards it. I mean, sometimes it starts with having it in the family, like my mother. Or like acquiring it along the way, meeting other funny people. And otherwise it's just anything you want. But it's like trying to find the right moment, but yeah, genetically? Yeah, I think it's about 50-50.
[About kids from Silicon Valley]
What are you building? "A small plasma laser that I use to torment the cat. I singe its fur, watch its reaction and I take notes." Where are your parents? "In cryogenic stasis. I froze them last year." How old are you? [puts up 2 fingers] "This many."
So sad when you give Prozac to a cat. It just sits in the corner going: "Me."
[About the French]
Look, the baby is smoking, does that make you angry?
In a previous life, I was Catherine the Great's horse.
It's like the old joke. What do you call a guy with his hand up a horse's ass? An Amish mechanic.
[About the British Royal Family] Oh stop, it's the Royal Family. I always expect him to have a banjo going [Deliverance theme]. Look at the teeth, look at the ears and go something's gone wong, gene pool's a Jacuzzi, back up. That's all we can do is screw in a lightbulb.
Look at the car, look at the car, look at the car!
[Indian accent] When you realize no one at MTV Awards ever thanks Vishnu. I'd like to thank Skinny G. Gandhi, when they asked him about Western society he said, "I think it would be a wonderful idea."
This title is available on:
The DVD runtime is 99 minutes, the same as the original Bravo broadcast. Several questions and answers which were cut from the original broadcast are included as extras on the DVD.
All clips are .MOV files and require the Quicktime player.
What's your favorite word?
What's your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
My wife's laugh.
What turns you off?
Violence towards children.
What sound or noise do you love?
(makes fart sound)
What sound or noise do you hate?
Screeching of brakes. It always implies something is gonna happen.
What's your favorite curse word?
What profession other than yours would you like to attempt?
Neurologist or theoretical physicist. Those are the people I kinda admire.
What profession would you not like to participate in?
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when
you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
They're seating the other front. Or just to hear there's laughter... to hear God go "Two Jews walk into a bar."