David Letterman has remembered his friend and comedy colleague Robin Williams with an emotional tribute.
As reported by E! News, the first order of business on The Late Show with David Letterman when the program returned from summer break on Monday night was the host addressing the death of Williams, who took his own life last week.
You can watch Letterman’s complete 10-minute homage to Williams here.
Letterman began by telling viewers that he had been friends with Williams for 38 years – dating all the way back to the days when both men were aspiring comics trying to make their name at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
“In those days, we were working for free drinks,” said Letterman. “What you would do is you would go on stage, you would do your little skits, and you would come off stage. And if there was a new guy coming on, you’d want to stick around and make fun of the new guy, because we were all worried that somebody else was coming in who was really funny.”
And when Williams arrived on the L.A. comedy scene in the late seventies, he was a complete unknown.
“For some reason in the beginning he was introduced as being from Scotland,” recalled Letterman. “They said he was Scottish. So now we’re stumped.”
But once the Juilliard-trained Williams began riffing, however, it was game over.
“All of a sudden he comes up on stage and you know what it is,” said Letterman. “It’s like nothing we had ever seen before – nothing we had ever imagined before. We go home at night and are writing our little jokes about stuff, and this guy comes in and we’re like morning dew. This guy’s a hurricane.”
Right around the same time, Williams was booked for a guest spot on the ABC sitcom Happy Days, which in turn led to him being cast in the starring role on the spinoff series Mork & Mindy.
As everyone knows, Mork & Mindy launched Williams’ career into the stratosphere, although he routinely reconvened with Letterman for guest appearances on Late Night with David Letterman (1982 – 1993) and The Late Show (1993 – present).
Letterman estimates that he interviewed Williams on more than 50 occasions. You can watch one of Williams’ more memorable Late Night sit downs here.
“He was always so gracious and we would talk about the old times, and never did he act like, ‘Oh, I knew you guys were scared because I was so good.’ It was just a pleasure to know the guy.”
During the course of his tribute, Letterman introduced a highlight reel of Williams’ appearances on Late Night and The Late Show.
Letterman also conceded that he was unaware of his friend’s long time struggles with depression.
“I am sorry I – like everybody else – had no idea that the man was in pain and that the man was suffering,” he said.
But in the final tally, Letterman confirmed his personal respect and admiration for his departed friend. “It was just a pleasure to know the guy,” said Letterman. “He was a gentleman and delightful.”
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