By Audrey Kuchen
News of the suicide of 63-year-old Robin Williams has sent shock waves throughout the nation, and the Connecticut comedy community is in mourning too.
Dan Larosa, a Middletown comedy stage hypnotist for 30 years, said, "Like everybody else--shocked, and then the shock turned to disbelief. It's sad tragic it's hurtful and I think there should be a call out that people should realize there are a lot of people who feel exactly as he did, overwhelmed, not able to handle their situations, very tough."
Larosa names Williams work among his most inspirational influences.
"The thing I love best about his act is he is very spontaneous, there never is a moment he was predictable, he'd start one thing, he'd go somewhere else," Larosa said. "People say laughter is the best medicine, he was absolutely the best comedy doctor."
Larosa says that "People have used comedy to overcome pain for as long as people have had pain."
Romanoff calls Williams a childhood hero, saying, "I watched [Robin Williams - Live at the Met] a thousand times when I was a kid, it was one of the things that made me wanna pursue this. I have a lot of comic influences but he's definitely right there, and at the top."
"I never saw him talk for 10 seconds without making somebody laugh, or trying, he threw more jokes in a 60 second span than you ever heard anyone throw in your life, and then on top of that was an Oscar Academy Award-winning actor."
Romanoff says many comedians suffer from depression, but Williams death comes as an unbelievable shock.
"I still think the contrast between this guy being the funniest person most people have ever seen in their life, and having that kind of demon, is a little hard to take," Romanoff said.
Brad Axelrod is the founder and president of Connecticut's first and oldest comedy company, Treehouse Comedy Productions. Since 1983, the Treehouse has provided more than 20,000 comedy shows non-stop throughout Connecticut and Westchester County in New York.
Over those 31 years Axelrod's seen them all, and counts Williams among the greats.
"I think his legacy will be one of genius, comedic genius for him to have crossed over from selling out arenas, to being an academy award winning actor, TV, doesn't happen to to many comics," Axelrod said. " He will always be a true comedy legend."
For a list of local upcoming Treehouse shows visit http://www.treehousecomedy.com/.