He was the first person I can remember that really fascinated me. I didn't just laugh at his jokes, I watched with amazement the energy that he had. The speed of his comedy. The layers of thought that went into some of the things he said. It was like watching a human machine gun firing bullets into the audience. How could someone think that fast? How could they take just one thought and turn it into something so big and funny?
Before Youtube I would hope to catch even the shortest clips of his standup. We didn't have HBO so I could not watch him uncensored but I remember the late show appearances and the Comic Relief shows I would rent. I always thought that no other comedian could do stand up like that, that his talent was unique.
Later in life when he started staring in more dramatic roles I remember I had my doubts. I mean here was this guy that would run around a set screaming at 200mph about Jews or poop and doing these crazy impressions. How would anyone believe him when he calmed down and actually acted?
I think it was The Fisher King that did it for me. The pain in his eyes in that movie, it went right into me. In retrospect, sadly he must have identified with that character more that we ever understood.
His face and voice have felt like family to me for so long now. He was such a part of every phase of my life and I feel like I will miss him even though we never actually met.
Well maybe we did meet, he gave me a little piece of him with every performance.