Chris Rock Remembers His 'Mentor' Robin Williams

Williams was the first person Rock ever saw "being as funny as Bugs Bunny."

August 12, 2014, 3:25 PM

— -- Legendary stand-up comedians and actors continue to pour in with stories about how Robin Williams either influenced or affected their careers for the better. Chris Rock is a legend in his own right, but he is no different.

Rock spoke to ABC News' Dan Kloeffler today about the death of his friend and "mentor" Robin Williams.

Read: Ben Affleck, Nathan Lane Pay Tribute to Robin Williams

Related: Robin Williams Died in an Apparent Suicide by Hanging

Rock, 49, spoke about Williams' "respect for the art" of comedy, how his depression wasn't that surprising, and how when the dust settles on this tragedy that just happened Monday, Williams "will go down in history as one of the great stand-up comedians of all time."

Here's the full Q and A with Rock:

ABC News: Chris, my apologies on the loss of your friend. Tell me a little about the impact that Robin had on your life.

Chris Rock: Robin was, is, I hate to say was, is one of the funniest guys I ever saw in my life. I remember the first time I saw ‘Mork and Mindy.’ And I know this sounds weird, it was like watching, it was the first time I saw an actual human being be as funny as Bugs Bunny. You know what I mean? Like he wasn’t human in a sense. When they casted him as an alien it was perfect because he was so from another world.

ABC: To have that kind of style, that kind of genius, was it something that you had aspired to? Was it something that you tried to emulate?

Rock: The first time I saw him perform was say, in the mid-80s you know '88, '87, something like that and you know he would just tear the roof off the place. Just one of the rare guys that matched the expectations of the audience you know. The audience expected him to be the funniest guy in the world and he lived up to it.

ABC: And that’s what we saw as his fans and as his audience. When the camera was off, when he would walk off stage, what was he like as a person, having a conversation one-on-one?

Rock: The guy was real warm. I mean he was always nice to me. He was very warm. He was very, I’m a lot, a little younger than Robin, so it was always a mentoring relationship. As in the last few years we were actually getting to the point where we could talk, you know, shop and wives and you know, like grownups. It was always a mentoring thing. He was just a kind man. He always had something positive to say. I never heard that guy trash, you know, comedians sit around and trash each other all day. I never heard Robin Williams say anything remotely bad about any comedian. He has such a respect for the art form in general at all levels. The last time I saw Robin he was playing a little club in Brooklyn. This guy Hannibal Burres has a room on Sunday nights that all the hipster comics go to and Robin was right there man.

ABC: He was very public and very candid about his addictions and battling them. Was it a surprise knowing that he was fighting those demons when you had heard this news?

Rock: Nah, I mean it wasn’t a surprise. Comedians can be a sad bunch, you know. You know what’s the saying? Ignorance is bliss. So if ignorance is bliss, what’s the opposite of ignorance? Must not be bliss. And your job as a comedian, you know, is basically to notice everything. And the better the comedian, the more aware he or she is of the world around them. So you know, it can be not a happy place. Sometimes you can have too much information. Sometimes you can know too much. So no, I was not, I’m never shocked at a comedian dealing with depression.

ABC: Lastly, I want to ask you, do you have a favorite movie, a favorite episode, a favorite routine of Robin’s?

Rock: Man I used to love Elmer Fudd and Apocalypse Now. Duh-how-uh, duh-how-uh, that was great man. Mrs. Doubtfire, I loved what is it, ‘One Hour Photo?’ You know, the Chris Nolan movie he did. I mean he was a great comedic actor, a great dramatic actor. But as big a movie star as he was, Robin Williams will go down in history as one of the great stand-up comedians of all time.

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