TIME remembrance

Robin Williams: Comic Jen Kirkman Says He ‘Wasn’t Jaded’

Robin Williams Death
Paul Drinkwater—NBC/Getty Images; Reed Saxon—AP

"He just really wanted to see what young people were doing and laughing at," she says

Robin Williams, who died Monday at age 63, won an Academy Award in 1998 for his role in Good Will Hunting. But Jen Kirkman, a stand-up comic, author and longtime Chelsea Lately panelist, saw firsthand how winning acting’s highest dramatic honor did nothing to curb Williams’ humility or his love for comedy. She remembers the late actor as supportive of young talent:

“He was coming to UCB in LA a lot to watch any kind of comedy show he could — stand-up, improv, whatever. Robin was the first truly famous person I’d ever encountered who walked backstage, assumed everybody was a comic, treated them as such, and acted like, ‘Is it OK that I’m here? Don’t make a big deal, I’m not trying to get in the way.’ He would watch the show, then come backstage and compliment you specifically on stuff he saw. I remember chatting with him about [how] he was about to go on this big Australian tour, and he was just excited and nervous. He just really wanted to see what young people were doing and laughing at.

He was so warm and nice, and a genuine feeling of, he’s not taking himself too seriously. He won an Oscar for dramatic acting, and you would never know it. He was humble and graceful and polite. He was just nothing but excited to be around this new energy. He wasn’t jaded, or, ‘Lemme tell you kids how it used to be.’ I really liked being in his presence. I found it very fascinating — like, that’s how you wanna be.”

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