Polygraphs are a funny thing. Before my job, I had always envisioned them being conducted in an abandoned warehouse in the middle of BFE (Ohio for those who don’t know what BFE stands for). Lights low, a frigid concrete floor on top of which a metal desk stands, it’s four thin substitutes for legs digging in as it was dragged to the middle of the light source for maximum effect. The 1970s faded orange plastic chair was a companion but not comforting as it might have been in primary school. Two men approach, bad cop and well, come now, bad cop. One carrying a machine designed to measure all sorts of inconspicuous approaches to the truth. The other? A more direct route of encouragement, his granddad’s billyclub. Looks like it’s found the truth a number of times by the amount of dried blood on its timber.
They aren’t anything like that though. It’s a white room with one plastic desk and two equally well-worn chairs. Ten minutes in and the proctor sets up shop. A laptop that connects to a data grabbing machine via SCSI. Not USB, SCSI. The shit a computer geek notices and takes shock over still bowls me over. The gentleman, and he is a perfectly nice man in the way of mannerisms and tact, has made sure I am fully relaxed. And then the questions.
I am not allowed to go into detail as to what he asked or the procedure in which his line of questioning took. That would give you all an edge and I have worked too hard to get to this point to let any slackers pass me by with my unwitting help. It was glaringly obvious to me that I wasn’t going to pass without digging into God’s pocket and pulling out some humor. I went to my happy place where British comedy occupies a great deal of the real estate. As I listened and answered the questions, I stepped about until I found the person that reassured me that making up Olympic sports was a viable career path if it all went south: Robin Williams.
By the rapid communication and childhood lamentation, I am assured that many people are aware of the passing of Robin Williams. From technology sites to gossip rags to celebrities all the way down to us grovelling peons. Many will extol his outright virtues, his long-lasting demon exorcism, his wit and satire. All have brought up Goodwill Hunting, The Fisher King, and Good Morning, Vietnam. Many others have cited their fondness of him in yesteryear’s movies such as Aladdin, Jumanji, and Hook. The man deserves praise heaped upon him for being versatile and progressive in his comedy.
I will always remember him for this though:
Robin’s Live on Broadway was so out of the ordinary for me. It was fresh and had me in stitches from beginning to the very gorilla end. I had never heard anyone talk so tactfully about their addictions that I began to challenge my own sense of humor. He was loud, not so brash but sly in his delivery. He made you want to go to Hell and enjoy it without so many words. Soon after, I found the comedic mainstream staples: Prince of Punch, George Carlin, Voice Extraordinaire Eddie Murphy, and of course father-figure Bill Cosby and old-potty mouth Richard Pryor.
Turns out that I can ruin any joke but those are just the setups. It’s those moments of awkwardness and silence that I thrive in. Spontaneity has a way of making people turn off their brains and produce a natural reaction of true laughter. It backfires from time to time but I’ll turn back to look at those that taught me not to take life so seriously. Robin Williams will be standing front and center, shouting about cocaine and sweating like pig. All for laugh.
Save me a spot up there, won’t you?