Roger Kabler started acting in 1989, but later, after losing himself to drug addiction, he found himself being someone new.
Specifically, Robin Williams.
Kabler’s recent tour of The Robin Williams Tribute Show led him to the Algonquin Commons Theatre on Nov. 4 where he performed his two-act show.
Act 1 introduced his Williams impression. He bounded around the stage, imitating a cat claiming his territory with a water bottle before performing a portion of “Never Had a Friend Like Me” from the movie Aladdin.
Each bit was transitioned by a back-and-forth between Williams and Mrs. Doubtfire, bantering and bickering.
“I don’t think Mrs. Doubtfire is a great film. Not my thing,” said Kabler in a post-show interview with the Algonquin Times. “But the performance in that film was outstanding.”
The second act lowered the mask as Kabler began speaking about the hardships he experienced throughout his life.
“I had to quit show business,” said Kabler in his monologue. “I went to Hollywood, I got on the Carol Burnett Show, I got my own sitcom, then it all fell apart. I ended up on drugs, I ended up in psych wards.”
Robin Williams died in 2014 after a celebrated acting career.
“When Robin passed away, something happened to me,” he said. “I felt his presence very strongly and suddenly he was there. I felt him pulling me back to work, and I thought, who am I to say no to Robin Williams?”
But Kabler said he felt a connection long before Williams’ passing.
“I’ve felt this connection since I first saw him when I was 17,” said Kabler. “I felt like it was me. I said, that’s me. Why am I out there on TV while I’m here? It’s like you have a twin.”
The monologue was followed by audience-based suggestions fuelling Kabler’s improvisation and impressions, such as Neil Diamond creating his musical style while constipated, Al Pacino’s version of Abbot and Costello’s Who’s on First?, Michael Jackson being haunted and possessed by the elephant man and Donald Trump as the Phantom of The Opera.
The show ended with a standing ovation.
“(Robin Williams) is a really great comedian, so we like tribute artists,” said Diane Brier, a fan of Williams.
Brier’s love of Williams started with the 1978 sitcom Mork & Mindy.
“He was so talented, could play any character,” said Brier.
“Mrs. Doubtfire, that was a funny film,” said Diane’s husband, Paul Brier, another Williams fan. “It’s a real shame he’s gone.”
After the show, Kabler greeted fans in person, shaking hands, taking photos and giving hugs, all while managing his merchandise stand where he sold signed copies of his film about performing as Robin Williams.