Robin Williams was ‘a wonderful man’: Vancouver comedian remembers the late actor

VANCOUVER – Comedian and actor Robin Williams was found dead in his California home on Monday.

Just before noon, sheriffs in Tiburon, California, received a 9-1-1 call about an unconscious man who was not breathing. That man turned out to be 63-year-old Robin Williams.

Police are calling his death a suicide by asphyxia. There will be further toxicology testing to follow.

A spokesperson for Williams’ family says he has been battling severe depression of late.

Williams knew Vancouver well, having worked on several movie projects like RV and Jumanji, as well as the Night at the Museum series.

Erika-Shaye Gair, born in New Westminster, acted alongside Robin Williams in RV.
Erika-Shaye Gair, born in New Westminster, acted alongside Robin Williams in RV.

One of his final projects is the upcoming Night at the Museum 3, which was shot in Vancouver studios earlier this year.

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A Vancouver man who used to own a comedy club in Gastown spoke to Global News about his experience working with Robin Williams.

“He was a great guy to work with,” said Rich Elwood. “An absolutely amazing talent and a great improviser to watch, especially up close. He was a very skilled guy and as a person, an open book. He was very gracious and always had time to answer your questions from people in the audience or shake hands or stop for a picture.”

“He was just a wonderful man.”

Elwood said when he heard Williams had died he was flooded with many great memories of the man he had worked with on a number of occasions.

Williams performed at the Punchlines Comedy Club in Vancouver more than 30 times. But when Williams was going to be in town to film Jumanji, his manager called Elwood and said Williams was looking for a place to “play.”

A few months went by and Elwood said he was getting skeptical Williams would show up, but randomly one night, he did.

“He watched the show and he liked the improv group, and came up afterwards and said ‘would you mind if I came down next Thursday and sat in with you guys?'” said Elwood.

“And of course it was a resounding and absolute yes!”

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Williams came back next Thursday and the group included Elwood and Canadian actor and comedian Ryan Stiles.

Elwood said Williams was a whirlwind of energy.

“He brought a lot to it. He was just a wonderful guy, a fantastic improviser and you know, watching him work, up close, you kind of had to keep checking yourself to stop watching Robin and get your head back into the show.”

“Just a very nice man.”

“It’s a tragedy that someone who brought so much love and happiness and hilarity to so many people had the demons that obviously he had,” added Elwood.

“What did he bring to the world? Like I say, like all comedians do. Laughter.”