Wednesday, January 13, 1988
The Michigan Daily
Searching for the real Robin
By John Shea
Special to the Daily
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. -
"Who is Robin Williams?"
I'm serious. That was the
question one of the reporters asked
me as we sat at a table, waiting for
the actor to come over and talk to us
about his new film, Good Morning,
Vietnam. In the film, he plays real
life figure Adrian Cronauer, an
irreverent disc jockey who enter-
tained troupes through his radio
"Oh, come on," I told him. "He's
Mork.' He's 'Garp.' He's the
funniest stand-up comic in the
He looked insulted. "Yeah, yeah,
I know that. But who is he."
When he came to the table, I
asked myself the same thing. He is
not the explosive, frazzled figure you
see on the talk show circuit. Instead,
he is a quieter figure - a sleeping
volcano of sorts that every once in a
while rumbles, making you think he
will erupt at any moment. He never
Question: How do you enjoy
Williams: I enjoy it very
much, thank you.
Q: Do you get a kick out of
people laughing at you?
W: Yeah, I do. It's very nice. It's
a lot better than seeing them go like
this (puts hands under chin and
slouches in his chair).
Q: Obviously, you're used to
doing stand-up. Is it harder for you
to do to work without an audience?
W: Yes. It's like having sex in a
wind tunnel. It's like being beaten to
death by your scrotum.
Sometimes it's harder because
you'll try something in rehearsal and
it'll be really funny and then you'll
try it again a second time and it
Q: Have you ever done radio
W: No, I've never done it before.
But whenever I do movies or stand-
up comedy tours, I'll do 50
"morning zoos." Hi! How are you!
(in a high, loud, obnoxious voice).
Guys with horns and buzzers and
whoopie cushions (he shakes his
head and laughs).
Q: Have you done the Howard
Stern show before?
Q: Was it fun?
W: Yeah, it was fun, but it was
like wearing fiberglass underwear.
It's this strange sensation, 'cause he
gets people calling in. One guy
called and asked, "Did you ever pork
Mindy?" Thank you, we'll be right
Q: Do you ever get a script that
says "Here Robin does 10 minutes
of his stuff?"
W: No. I haven't had that stuff
since Mork and Mindy and even
then, it really wasn't written. See,
with Mork and Mindy we had a live
audience so we just went off (and
improvised). If we didn't have a live,
audience, they wouldn't let us go off
like that. They would've said, "Just
say the words. Just say, "Pick up the
bread and say 'isn't that nice.'
Q: How much of Good Morning,
Vietnam was scripted and how'
much of it was improvised? ,
W: The classes were open, the
radio obviously was freeform. The
classes were difficult because (thee
Vietnamese) didn't speak English'
and if we spoke all the lines on
paper, it would have sounded stilted.
Sometimes, with the scenes with the
girl (Williams' love interest in the
story), we would improvise a little
but not much. You don't want to
improvise much with someone who
doesn't understand the language.
Because if you do that, you're
basically using her as the brunt of
her jokes rather than playing with
her and working with her.
Q: Did you do some things that
the real Adrian Cronauer didn't do?
W: Well, the real Cronauer is
See LIFE Page 8
Robin Williams on his screen persona, ex-Vietnam disc jockey Adrian
Cronauer: 'The real Cronauer is nice... He didn't do anything really
outrageous - I think he'll say that, too.'
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