During Robin Williams’ 2001 appearance on Inside the Actors Studio, James Lipton closed the questionnaire portion of the program — as he does with every guest — with the following: “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say at the pearly gates?”
Robin Williams delivered an answer that was Robin Williams in a nutshell: quick, funny, and razor-sharp on the surface, with plenty of complexity layered below. He reeled off three punchlines in a matter of seconds, and buried an easy-to-overlook nugget of poignancy right in the middle: “It would be nice to know that there’s laughter.”
Maybe it’s too convenient to analyze this clip from where we stand now, a day after Robin’s death, but there’s something devastatingly symbolic about the look on Williams’ face as he finishes his answer. It looks almost painful for him to deliver those last few syllables — but he does it, and it makes everyone around him laugh.
If you can’t watch the short clip above, Robin’s complete answer lies in these GIFs: