Robin Williams never just relegated himself to his official film and television work and, especially recently, spoiled audiences with his delightful, exuberant charisma in a variety of venues. Whether it was a talk show appearance, an official comedy special, a Richard Pryor roast, a USO tour, a Reddit AMA, or a heartfelt interview with James Lipton or Marc Maron, Williams gave his all to each occasion.
Below are 16 essential moments. Be warned, there’s some salty language—but if you love Williams, you already knew that.
An Evening with Robin Williams (1982)
In his greatest and least hinged stand-up special, the Bay Area native returned to San Francisco, donned a Hawaiian shirt, and unleashed 80 minutes of hyperkinetic comedy flavored with bleakly hilarious confessionalism. (“Cocaine is God’s way of saying you’re making too much money!”) —Darren Franich
WTF with Marc Maron (2010)
It’s not hard to figure out why this is one of Maron’s most popular episodes. Both comedians discuss addiction, heart surgery, divorce, and jealousy in a candid, essential interview.
Richard Pryor roast (1977)
Still a young, up-and-coming comedian, Williams boldly participated in a roast of the venerable Richard Pryor. It was of course, out of admiration and led to a role on Pryor’s variety series. Williams would later say: “Richard Pryor is an alchemist who can turn the darkest pain into the deepest comedy. [He] doesn’t go for the jugular—he goes straight for the aorta.”
Saturday Night Live as Ronald Reagan (1986)
“You say Iran, I say Iraq, let’s call the whole thing a deal.”
Inside the Actors Studio (2001)
Williams takes a pink scarf and shows the audience just how many characters he can seamlessly embody with one silly prop.