As Robin Williams became more and more famous in the late 70’s and early 80’s, it was getting obvious that he became a victim of his own fame. (Hello, cocaine and booze anyone? How about depression? Magazine publicity, fans tearing at him, comedy specials, parties, Belushi, parties, Belushi, parties. ) Trying to deal with the recent death of John Lennon, plus the trappings of celebrity he endured, Williams pitched an idea to Gary Marshall on how he – Robin Williams – meets Mork in a psychological meta situation were the actor playing the character opens up to the world about his personal struggle with fame. In turn, Mork learns about the trappings of celebrity public adulation. Very quirky and heady at the time, but in retrospect, shockingly sad and quite intelligent.
Some background on the premise:
Mindy is struggling to keep her job as a television reporter at a local news program. Robin Williams, the famous comedian is in town to perform and has been seen around visiting coffee shops, appearing at clubs and school functions. Everyone has met him, except Mindy – the one person who really needs to get to him for a featured interview or else she will be fired.
Luckily, Mork happens to look EXACTLY like Robin Williams. (Duh.) With Williams-fever hitting its peak with the famous star in town, everyone keeps mistaking Mork for the big guy. Williams is due to perform at a local theater. Hoping to run into him at the stage door, M&M wait it out until Mork is mistaken for the star and allowed in. Boom! Mindy gets to interview RW, and Mork gets to meet his alter-ego doppleganger. (I’ve cut out some dialogue just to tighten it up since the scene is very conversational.)
From Mork and Mindy, 1981: Mork Meets Robin Williams
How do you keep up the pace? You arrive from Hawaii, fly all night, then go straight to the university and go lecture for three hours. Then after the lecture – you performed until 3am at the Comedy Cabaret, and now you’re doing two shows tonight.
Well, two reasons. You see I’m a performing addict. I can’t get enough. Also the owner of the Comedy Cabaret is a friend of a cousin and a friend of a friend, so, I couldn’t say no.
Gee – that’s a great angle for my story: ‘Robin Williams, the Comedian Who Can’t Say No’
I don’t know why I can’t say no. I guess I want people to like me. (I hate myself for that). But, I used to be able to say no. Before all this craziness started, my friends used to call up and go “Come on..we’re all going outside, there’ some gnarly waves, and we’re all going to hang out”, and I’d have to go “No my Mama say I have to stay inside and read Nietzsche tonight.” Later on, I guess I was afraid to say no because then they’d all say, like, “Oh…Robin William. Mr. Smarty Pants Big Shot. Oh, you forgot your old friends. Then, ‘lend me $10,000 for a new car’ when you tell them you won’t do the ‘shrimp’ benefit.
This is none of my business but it seems that if they’re really your friends they’d understand. But it seems to me you can’t say no to a total stranger.
Well. You’re right.
It also looks like you’re probably taken advantage of a lot. You know if you learn how to say no, you’ll probably have a lot more time to yourself.
Maybe that’s the last thing I want.
[Security guard comes in for the two minute warning. They’re ready to start the show]
(Getting up to leave. To Mindy)
Well, I hope I didn’t disappoint you.
Disappoint her? Are you kidding? You’re breaking her perky little heart.
I was always being the new kid in the neighborhood. Since I was suffering a case of the terminally shy, I couldn’t make friends that easily. I always spent a lot of time in my room and — I created my own little world. With all these little characters that had strange, unusual qualities.
After a while, I realized that well, people found these characters funny and outrageous, then I got to the point where the characters could say and do the things that I was afraid to do myself.
And, after a little while – here I am.