The day the comedy died

by Andrea Elizabeth

If the day of the crash that killed Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and The Big Bopper (Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr.) was the day the music died, then the death of Robin Williams is the day comedy died. Maybe it tells more about Don McClean than Buddy Holly, and maybe saying that tells more about me than Robin Williams.

“Except to acknowledge that he first learned about Buddy Holly‘s February 3, 1959 death when he was folding newspapers for his paper route on the morning of February 4, 1959 (the line “February made me shiver/with every paper I’d deliver”), McLean has generally avoided responding to direct questions about the song lyrics, such as saying, “They’re beyond analysis. They’re poetry.”[6] He also stated in an editorial published in 2009 on the 50th anniversary of the crash that writing the first verse of the song exorcised his long-running grief over Holly’s death and that he considers the song to be “a big song (…) that summed up the world known as America.”[7] McLean dedicated the American Pie album to Holly.”

If that’s the criteria, then Robin Williams’ death couldn’t have been the day the comedy died because I don’t remember what I was doing when I heard the news, and my grief over it hasn’t been that long-running. My uncomfortable affection for him has been, however. So maybe Mork’s hatching from the egg was the day comedy was born. But wouldn’t my earlier memory of Groucho Marx glasses and wax big lips be that day? And what about the Elephant’s Child schlooping up a schloop of mud so that it ran trickly all behind his ears? Or when the hippie said to the Ghost with the Bloody Fingers, “Cool it, man, go get some bandaids.” Or when the guy said to the other guy after not hearing him repeatedly say, “Did you know you have a banana in your ear?”, “I can’t hear you, I have a banana in my ear.”

No, those weren’t the days. It was Mork’s power to resurrect people after the 60’s wore off and we were stuck in the 70’s disillusioned love of tear-jerkers. But didn’t Star Wars do that? No. Star Wars wasn’t funny. Well, Han Solo was, but in the same way Indiana Jones was when he shot the ninja samurai guy. It was because he was sick and tired, like Dirty Harry was. Robin Williams wasn’t.

Until he was. 

That’s the day the comedy died.