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08/12/2014 09:16 EDT | Updated 10/12/2014 05:59 EDT

Robin Williams: Just For Laughs co-founder remembers comedy legend

Just For Laughs co-founder Andy Nulman will always remember Robin Williams as the one that got away.

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Nulman told CBC News that he had Williams booked to take part in a tribute to comedy legend Jonathan Winters in 1995, but Williams had to pull out at the last minute for a film he was working on at the time.

“I’ll never forget this, he was so nice. He said he’d do anything for Jon. He said, ‘Come to my house, film me, I’ll put something together.’ That’s the type of guy he was,” Nulman said.

Williams regularly topped a Just For Laughs survey that asked audience members which comedian they would most like to see at the annual international comedy festival.

“[Williams] was perhaps the most popular comedian who never played Just For Laughs,” Nulman said.

'You can’t get much better than that'

Nulman did have his own moment with Williams in Los Angeles while scouting talent for the Montreal festival.

Nulman said he was walking to a comedy club with Canadian comedian Howie Mandell when they ran into Williams on the street.

Williams jumped on a passing tour bus, dragging Nulman and Mandell with him, and took over as tour guide.

“He gave out false information as we drove down Sunset Strip and, when we got to the Comedy Store, we all got off,” Nulman recalled.

“I was 25 or 26 years old and Robin Williams was perhaps the biggest comedy star on the planet. You can’t get much better than that.”

Williams's apparent suicide on Monday at 63 is something that Nulman says he’s seeing all too often in his industry and beyond.

“Depression is a mental health issue," he said.  

"Suicide is the culmination of a mental health issue in most cases. It’s a social phenomenon, not just about show business. If this is confirmed as a suicide, it’s a clarion to the public at large that this is not acceptable.

"People need help. When people who seemingly have it all — fame, fortune — are suffering with demons, where does that put the rest of us? Hopefully, this is a call for help that gets listened to."

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