CLEVELAND -- The news of Robin Williams' death is sending shock waves through Cleveland's comedy circuit.

One comedian, in town from San Francisco, says he didn't believe the news at first.

Ali Mafi thought it was a hoax that comes out every couple of years, but when he learned it was true, Mafi went on stage at Pickwick & Frolic with a heavy heart.

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"I didn't want to go on stage tonight, I really didn't, but these people bought tickets, they came and wanted to have a good time and I remembered that," said Mafi.

When Ali first met Williams, he could believe what a down to earth-kind of person he was.

"When he introduced himself he goes, 'Hi I'm Robin Williams,' as if I didn't know this legend was in front of me. It made me realize that this was a really humble person who cared about his craft. He was really a nice guy," recalls Mafi.

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Like a lot of people at the comedy club, Ali and managing member Nick Kostis learned the news from friends.

They say Williams will be missed as an example and an inspiration to the entire industry.

"As well as to many classes of comedians that are still working and striving to attain the level of achievement that he attained," said Kostis.

"It's a really sad day for comics and comedy and America. He was an icon, he was a legend. It's a very sad ending to an amazing career and amazing person," said Mafi.

Follow WKYC's Kristin Anderson on Twitter: @KristinWKYC