Roger Kabler brings his lively impression of Robin Williams to the Savannah Comedy Revue
Steven Alford For Do Savannah
“For three years, I have been working on a film called ‘Being Robin,’ which tells the story of how this show came to be. How, for a period, I was convinced I was possessed by his spirit. How it had become a mental health issue, and finally a tribute was born that is seen by thousands of people. The film is nearly complete and will be sent into film festivals around the world. And then I’m gonna rest.”
Nearly eight years ago, the world lost a revered comedic actor with the passing of Robin Williams. Comedian Roger Kabler has been paying his own tribute to the comic’s unique genius with his poignant impressions and side-splitting routines in character as Williams.
DO Savannah sat down with the seasoned performer as he prepares to make his Savannah debut on Saturday with “Robin: The Ultimate Robin Williams Tribute Experience.” We discuss how he got into comedy, what he loves about performing, and why the legacy of Robin Williams continues to impact audiences.
DO Savannah: How did you first get into comedy?
Roger Kabler: “I started by entertaining my mom and as a teen doing impressions at parties, stoned teens love Robin Williams and cartoon impressions. Then at 18, I went to an open mic night in Boston.
“I moved to New York and studied acting. I did some plays but went back to stand up, doing an act about an impressionist who goes mad. It got attention and landed me on the New Carol Burnett Show, The Tonight Show, and other films and TV situations.”
DO: What do you love about performing live?
Kabler: “Performing live is a natural high. The communion of a live audience responding with laughter caused me to veer off and improvise, which can get really scary and cause a greater high.”
DO: Have you played Savannah before?
Kabler: “I have never played Savannah, but I’ve eaten the pralines.”
DO: What do you love about Savannah?
Kabler: “Savannah was a quick rest stop during a comedy tour a few years ago, and I fell in love with the architecture and waterfront, and the pralines.”
Robin Kabler as Robin Williams
DO: How did you decide to do a Robin Williams tribute act?
Kabler: “I had retired from performing. I had decided never to go on stage again, as my years in New York and Hollywood almost did me in. But when Robin passed in 2014, people were asking me if I would do a tribute.
“I said ‘no’ many times, but then I felt Robin’s spirit. I know it sounds delusional, and maybe it is, but I didn’t want to ignore him. So, I started writing a tribute show to perform as Robin. It has been performed everywhere from libraries to 1,000-seat performing art centers, and was supposed to go off-Broadway before COVID hit and shut everything down.”
DO: What do you think is special about Robin’s brand of comedy?
Kabler: “What I saw in Robin was an electric energy coupled with a super-fast comic mind that would envision a funny scenario or character, and then suddenly it would manifest in his face body and voice.
“He was a mime and trained in dance and mask work, so his physical work was incredible. And he channeled characters and life like nothing I’ve ever witnessed before.
“I try to do that in the show, and you can see it there as I am channeling Robin and its exhausting and exhilarating. He also had a deep social conscience and knowledge that he used to point out the insane truths of the world. He was a pure jester.”
DO: How do audiences react to your tribute show?
Kabler: “Audiences react to the act in varying ways. I know they are laughing, sometimes more than that. A pregnant woman was laughing so hard she went into labor. There are tears and hugs too.
“People thank me for the show by helping bring back Robin in some way. Some say they feel Robin’s spirit in the room. Sometimes it gets very quiet, and I can feel them just staring. It’s interesting.”
DO: What do you hope they experience?
Kabler: “I want the audiences to feel what it was like to witness Robin live, to feel that energy, and the way he would tickle them with laughter at the same time open their hearts in a healing way we all need right now.”
DO: What’s coming up next for you?
Kabler: “For three years, I have been working on a film called ‘Being Robin,’ which tells the story of how this show came to be. How, for a period, I was convinced I was possessed by his spirit. How it had become a mental health issue, and finally a tribute was born that is seen by thousands of people. The film is nearly complete and will be sent into film festivals around the world. And then I’m gonna rest.”
Read the full article on: Do Savannah