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Local comedian recalls Robin Williams’ influence

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Updated: 8/11 10:51 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – Robin Williams was known as an inspiration for some, and his work helped shape and mold the career of at least one local comedian.

Williams was found dead in his California home Monday morning. The Marin County Sheriff’s Office said his death was a suicide. He was 63.

Local comedian Steve Van Zandt remembers Williams’ comedy well.

“Amazing improv comedian. Really in a league of his own,” he said. “Oh, that crazy guy who gets out of his seat. He can’t sit still. He’s all over the place.”

Van Zandt became a full-time comedian in 1991. He worked his way up to many of the comedy clubs across the country where Williams once performed.

“He was very animated on stage and kind of in your face,” Van Zandt said.

Van Zandt said it was Williams’ ability to connect with the crowd in very unique ways that made lasting impressions. Van Zandt’s wife got to see Williams perform.

“She said her face literally hurt for days afterwards, and she couldn’t recall any of the material,” he said.

Van Zandt said that’s the sign of a great comedian: the ability to keep people laughing throughout the entire show.

“He’s irreplaceable. He really is,” Van Zandt said. “There won’t be another Robin Williams. I know that’s cliché, but he really was in a class by himself.”

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