Laughing Matters: Robin Williams, “The Invention of Golf”

Sometimes comedy illuminates hard truths with a pointed urgency that other means can’t quite achieve. Sometimes comedy is just funny. This series of posts is mostly about the former instances, but the latter is valuable, too.

If you’d asked me when I was younger to identify my favorite comedian, I would have snapped off “Robin Williams” without hesitation. My age was still a single digit when Williams stepped into his star-making appearance on Happy Days, so I was precisely the right age to respond to his joyous anarchy. This was a guy whose stand-up showstopper centered on an Elmer Fudd impression. Of course it spoke to me when I was a kid. How could it not? As I grew up, I was a little glum that it sometimes felt like Williams didn’t keep pace. Well after he should have, he continued to rely on stereotypes in his cascade of voices and personae. It’s one thing to adopt accents, it’s another to continue leaning on, say, flouncing vocal mannerisms in depictions of gay males. Even still, there were times when I could watch Williams and be freshly amazed at his whiplash genius. Among latter-day Williams comedy routines, nothing dazzles quite like his boisterous riff on the invention of golf by the Scottish. In these couple of minutes, the man’s mind is fully alive and his performer’s energy impressively keeps pace. His was a talent like no other. This demonstrates it decisively.

Previous entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Laughing Matters” tag.

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