Local News

North Carolina, along with the world, remembers Robin Williams

Posted August 11, 2014 10:43 p.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2014 12:55 p.m. EDT

— In front of a small audience, comedians at ComedyWorx Comedy Club Monday night practiced what Robin Williams preached through his work – moving at high speeds onstage with no map.

“He was a legend for getting on stage and doing stuff without really being scripted, and that’s what we do here,” club owner Richard Gardner said.

Gardner, like many others around the world, was shocked to hear of the iconic comedian and actor’s death. Williams, 63, died Monday of an apparent suicide in his San Francisco area home, officials said.

From the small stage to the White House, many paused to pay tribute.

“He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “He made us laugh. He made us cry. He gave his immeasurable talent freely and generously to those who needed it most – from our troops stationed abroad to the marginalized on our own streets.”

Williams was no stranger to North Carolina. Most of the 1998 movie “Patch Adams,” where Williams plays a real-life doctor who uses humor to help his patients, was shot in Asheville and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Williams returned to the Triangle in 2012 for an intimate “chat” with author David Steinberg at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

Recently, those close to Williams said he battled depression. The revelation isn’t surprising to Gardner, who said many comedians live their lives on extremes.

"That is where you get the creativity and the surprises that you find in comedy from,” he said. “They're a different breed of person and Robin Williams was an extreme."

On Twitter, Raleigh native Evan Rachel Wood summed up Williams' death in three words, using a screen shot from the movie "Aladdin" when the title character is hugging the Genie, voiced by Williams - "Genie. You're free."

Three hours after it was posted, the message was retweeted nearly 27,000 times and favorited nearly 19,000 times.