(NEW YORK) — During his Late Show installment Monday night, David Letterman spent a segment memorializing his friend of 38 years, Robin Williams, who died of an apparent suicide last week.
Letterman recalled the first time he and a group of comics saw Williams, in the 1970s at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles. For some reason, Letterman said, Williams was introduced as having come from Scotland, which made the comics complacent — until they saw him perform.
“It was like nothing we had ever seen before. Nothing we had ever imagined before. We go home at night and are writing our little jokes about stuff…and this guy comes in…like a hurricane.”
“The longer he’s on stage, the worse we feel about ourselves,” Letterman laughed, “and then he finishes and I thought, ‘Well that’s it: they’re going to have to put an end to show business, because what can happen after this?'”
Eventually, the two became friends, with Williams paying it forward by getting Letterman a bit part on a Mork and Mindy episode.
The chat show host explained that between his Late Night with David Letterman on NBC and CBS’ Late Show, Williams appeared as a guest 50 times. “Two things would happen because Robin was on the program. One was I didn’t have to do anything….And two…the viewership would go up…People were drawn to him because of this electricity, this whatever it was…that powered him.”
A clearly emotional Letterman ended a montage of clips of the comic’s appearances on Letterman’s two talk shows expressing regret. “I’m sorry, like everybody else I had no idea that the man was in pain, that the man was suffering,” he said.
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Brian Stelter, CNN