On July 16 2008 in Seattle, I went with my friend Rahella Tesfahun to see a comedy show called Laff Hole at a place called ReBar. It was a weekly show that we’d talked about going to for at least a couple of months. Our favorite Capitol Hill coffee guy, Kevin Hyder, was one of the founders and the usual emcee. This week, though, Rahella had a friend (or maybe just an acquaintance) in the show so we finally got off our collective ass and went.
We were really enjoying the evening. Whoever the weakest comic of the night was– still pretty decent. We were pleased so far. And Rahella’s friend (or acquaintance) had a very funny segment presenting a slideshow of her recent birthday, which I enjoyed teriffically because I like concept comedy. The headliner that night was a young dude named Ross Parsons. It was his 21st birthday, and though he’d never headlined before, Laff Hole felt he was ready and the occasion was too big to resist.
Just before our birthday-boy/headliner of the evening performed, Hyder announced there would be a “Happy Birthday sing-along” first. We all cheered. Then, out strode Robin WIlliams, accepting the mic and leading us all in a song in honor of Ross Parsons. Rahella and I were stunned, but we sang our collective ass off.
Robin (if I may call him that) warmed up the crowd for another 10 or 15 minutes, complimenting previous performers and saying random, hilarious shit that all somehow strung together as is he’d planned as carefully as Jerry Seinfeld sculpts his routines. He was just in the area shooting a film and a buddy invited him to the show. Next thing you know…
Then, Robin Williams brought out the birthday boy, handing the mic to Ross Parsons and disappearing offstage. Tough act to follow. Unless you’re Ross Parsons! Ross Parsons DESTROYED that night! He was absolutely fantastic! I quoted his jokes (with attribution) for weeks.
Anyway, that’s the story of how that one time I accidentally saw Robin Williams do 10 or 15 minutes of improv stand-up for 5 bucks. The rest of the show was already a bargain at that price. Best 5 bucks I ever spent. (All my 5 buck lottery tickets so far have been crap.)
I’m gonna miss you, Robin Williams. I mean, dammit, I just watched One Hour Photo last week. You were brilliant. Wish I had 20 or so more years before you decided to retire.