This is a quiet week in late-night TV, with a bunch of the shows (David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert) in reruns. So the few shows on the air took an opportunity Tuesday to pay tribute to Robin Williams, particularly since two of them were taped on Monday before they learned of Williams’s death.
On “The Tonight Show,” Jimmy Fallon got emotional as he talked about the comedian. “We, like all of you, were shaken up a bit last night when we learned that genius comedian and actor Robin Williams passed away. He was one of a kind. One in a million. Unbelievable,” said Fallon, his voice shaking.
“You’d watch him and you would cry laughing,” he said. “And you would think, ‘I’m never going to see anyone like this human, ever.’ It’s just amazing. His brain was always thinking 10 steps ahead of what he was saying. He was like the Muhammad Ali of comedy.”
Fallon then showed a clip of Williams’s first-ever “Tonight Show” appearance with Johnny Carson, which featured the actor running into the audience to banter. At the end of the clip, he stood up on his desk (as Williams famously did in “Dead Poets Society”) and said, “O Captain, My Captain — you will be missed.”
An hour later on “Late Night,” Seth Meyers talked about how much he loved “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society.”
“The saddest part of this is Robin was battling depression. And if there’s anything we can do to honor his memory, I would hope it would be to use this opportunity to educate us more about this terrible affliction,” Meyers said.
“So we just want to say that we miss Robin, but we’re also very lucky to have had him at all,” Meyers added. “Thank you to Robin Williams.”
Meanwhile, Conan O’Brien — who delivered the news, stunned, while learning about it for the first time on the show Monday — took another moment to talk about Williams.
O’Brien noted that while everyone knows that Williams was “fantastically funny,” he’s glad there are stories coming out now about how Williams was so wonderful and genuine in real life, as well.
As an example of Williams’s kindness, O’Brien told an anecdote: When was going through a rough time about five years ago (probably the “Tonight Show” drama), Williams, out of the blue, bought him a bicycle.
“It was the most absurd bicycle you’ve ever seen,” O’Brien said. “It was bright orange and bright green and had shamrocks on it.”
Pleased but surprised — they didn’t know each other that well — O’Brien called the actor to say thank you. Williams was delighted and said, “Does it look ridiculous? Does it really look ridiculous? Do you really look stupid riding it?…Well that’s good then!”
O’Brien talked further about his generosity. “I think it’s particularly courageous for someone to be that generous of spirit in the face of that kind of depression,” he said.
He played a clip of some of Williams’s best appearances on his show:
Robin Williams remembered not just for his movies and his humor, but for his acts of kindness, too