Memorable meeting with Robin Williams for Parksville grad
While the recent death of Robin Williams has brought the usual celebrity condolences, there has also been a lot of questioning and soul searching.
"The first day there was lots of talk in the industry, but since then other comedians have been really quiet and self-reflective," said Damonde Tschritter, a Ballenas Secondary School grad and one of the country's most acclaimed comedians.
Tschritter had a memorable meeting with Williams — as most meetings with the legend seem to be — in about 2001 at the Urban Well, Vancouver's hottest comedy club at the time.
"It was my first time headlining and I had a really great show, I killed," Tschritter told The NEWS from Kelowna. "Then the manager said someone was going on after me and I was really choked."
One of the world's biggest movie stars came out and "absolutely destroyed with an amazing 30-minute set and I was totally forgotten," Tschritter said.
Williams worked the crowd and at one point was even working from the back of the audience without a mic.
He said when the comedy giant was done "he was just standing very quietly off stage" and Tschritter said hi and joked about how he'd ruined his set. He said Williams was very nice about it and complimented his set.
Another time, he said, they were in the process of packing up after cancelling a show because there were only two people in the audience, but Williams popped in "to get his comedy fix and he actually did a show for those two people."
He said the other comedians were humbled and realized if Williams would do a show for just two people, who were they to cancel due to a low turn out.
"When he died it wasn't like a celebrity, it felt like everyone's silly uncle, everyone felt a weird connection to him," Tschritter said. "Everybody (in the industry) has a story."
"He was one of the funniest guys of all time and this huge movie star, but people felt it personally and there's a lot of self reflection going on," he said, referring to Williams' struggles with substance abuse and a less-known battle with depression.
Williams, who was one of the biggest comedians in the world in the late 1970s, is now best known to younger generations as the Oscar-winning star of more than 60 movies, including eight shot in B.C. and 2002's Insomnia filmed in the Port Alberni area.
Tschritter, hailed by The Globe & Mail as "Comedy's new superhero, and perhaps this country's finest comedic storyteller," now lives in Vancouver but visits family and performs in the mid-Island frequently.