The Arts Council is bringing a star — or close enough — to Gainesville. David Born, an impersonator and tribute artist of Robin Williams who died Aug. 11, 2014, will be performing as part of The Arts Council Signature Series.
“Robin Williams was such a phenomenal actor, and that's another reason I wanted to bring this tribute,” said Gladys Wyant, executive director of The Arts Council. “So many people loved Robin Williams and it was such a tragedy about his death, so I'd like people to remember the good things.”
The show is set to take place at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18 at Chestatee High School’s theater. Tickets are $20.60 for students, $28.84 for adults and $25.75 for those 65 and older.
Born, an award-winning impersonator has been at it for 25 years doing shows across the United States and Canada, performs in a stand-up comedy format. Born is introduced as Robin Williams and carries the impersonation throughout — never breaking character.
He’s twice received the funniest male award at the Sunburst Impersonator Convention, most recently in 2016 and has won the best comedy award and best actor award at The Reel Awards in Las Vegas.
“I've been compared to Robin Williams ever since I was in high school,” Born said. “I was compared to being like Mork from ‘Mork and Mindy.’ I had long hair, was thin and had high energy. And I had never seen ‘Mork and Mindy,’ so even before I knew who Robin Williams was, I was already tagged as Robin Williams-esque. So it's kind of an interesting thing where I had the comparison for a long time.”
He thought the comparison was a curse for a while, but then thought of it as part curse, part blessing.
“I realized there's a reason and the reason came after we lost Robin,” Born said. “I knew why I was here: to carry this on and get the word out for my man Robin, who was a real sweet guy. And I'm happy to keep his legacy going.”
In 2002, Williams gave him his blessing to do the tribute show, Born said. After Born went to one of Williams’ comedy shows in Houston, he stood in line to get an autograph from him. They started talking and got onto the subject of Born’s job.
“I explained how I was doing this show and the similarity was giving me a lot of work,” Born said. “And he said, ‘Man, look. I've got a lot of projects coming out and if anything I'm doing is helping to get you work, more power to you. Go get it.’”
So, that’s what he did. He started taking things more seriously and will be bringing the act to Gainesville, mixing things up at The Arts Council’s Signature Series.
Wyant said they like to do that to make sure they’re reaching as broad of an audience as possible, and she believes people of all ages know Robin Williams, so she thinks they'll be interested in the show.
“It just sounded like a fun thing to do,” Wyant said. “It seems like this time of year, people are so busy they need a little bit of stress relief. So much is happening in the spring, we just stay too busy, and sometimes we need to sit back and relax and laugh.”
Born followed Williams’ work for years, studying his moves, the way he talks, the jokes he tells and the way he tells them. It’s paid off, too, because even after he tells people he’s not Williams, they oftentimes don’t believe him.
“I love doing the tribute to him because I'm keeping his spirit alive and his energy alive,” Born said. “Everybody wants to get a taste of what Robin was like in person and I'm pretty much it. It's not that big a stretch for me to do Robin.”
Robin Williams tribute show
What: Show featuring Robin Williams impressionist and comedian David Born
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 18
Where: Chestatee High School Theater, 3005 Sardis Road, Gainesville
How much: $20.60 for students, $28.84 for adults and $25.75 for those 65 and older
More info: theartscouncil.net/events/signature-series/robin-williams-impersonator-david-born/