Rob Delaney is a Political Beast
At this point, others have probably written as much about Twitter-star-slash-comedian Rob Delaney as he’s said about himself — in the 10,000-plus 140 character missives he’s tweeted. Many of followers have stuck around for the weird, often-NSFW humor, others for his deadpan celebrity-baiting. But over the past few months, Delaney has stumbled on his deepest goldmine yet: turning his troll-tweeting to politics — and one candidate in particular. He’s also picked a fight with Newsweek, inspired a political cartoon (above), and is self-releasing a $5 online-only comedy special — today. We caught up with Delaney as he prepares for a West Coast tour, and the DNC hits full swing.
So, Mitt Romney pretty much has a whole persona on your Twitter feed. How’d you decide Jar Jar Binks would be his favorite Star Wars character?
This is ad hominem, but Mitt Romney is an unlikeable brand that the GOP is trying to sell. Jar Jar Binks was George Lucas’s attempt to lure in younger viewers; a mercenary decision and it showed. Jar Jar Binks sucked. I feel he is a wonderful, accurate proxy for Mitt Romney, and the popularity of this tweet suggests the United States of America agrees with me.
You’ve talked about how Twitter has landed you gigs. But why release your special online too?
I’m very interested in the old-fashioned methods of comedy delivery. My favorite thing to do is stand-up … [But] Twitter functioned as a wormhole for me to blast into another galaxy. Twitter allowed me to sell tickets on the road in a sustainable way, so that I was able to make a living. But since I can’t be in Sydney and Amsterdam and Pittsburgh at the same time, I thought, “What the hell?” I might as well do this thing that Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansarihave done and self-release a special.
You’ve said you don’t like to let politics seep into your standup. Do you think that disappoints your online following?
What am I gonna talk about — a political party? A policy? A candidate? Those things are like the wind. They’re ephemeral, whereas the shame you feel about your own genitals… for some reason that endures a lifetime.
So you won’t be talking politics on your upcoming tour. But do you have any predictions for the DNC?
It’ll be more dynamic and interesting than the RNC. I’m not a Democrat, but the Republicans do one flavor and they do it well. I’d call that flavor EXPEN$IVE VANILLA, if you know what I mean. In 2012, Democrats are just more nuanced and multi-faceted than Republicans, so their “gala event” or “prom” or whatever — since conventions are just utter bullshit — will be more compelling television.
More compelling than Clint Eastwood?
If the RNC was a movie, it was Braveheart. Great movie, but a significant portion of the populace didn’t see it. Or if they did, they didn’t enjoy parts of [it] because they didn’t like seeing people’s faces literally bashed in with maces. The DNC will be more like Superman, where a much larger swath of Americans can watch and say, “Whoa, that was awesome.” It’ll just leave a better taste in viewers’ mouths. Or rather eyes, since people probably won’t be eating it.
Has either political camp ever reached out to you?
Yeah, in fact. Since I make fun of Mitt Romney so much, the Obama campaign did reach out. At first I came to their attention because of the fake Obama retweets I do, where I just have Obama saying silly things [like] wondering if a human and a dog could procreate. But then they gathered that I’m not a Romney fan, so they emailed asking if I’d want to formally help.
I told them, “Let me tell you a few things about how I feel, then you tell me if you’d still like me to help.” I told them that I wanted Obama to be reelected as much as David Axelrod does, but I would never expound on the excellence of Obama as a person. I don’t ‘drink the Kool-Aid,’ as it were. Yes, I’d like Obama to win the second term, strictly because of his policies on healthcare and education, but I’m never gonna be like, “Barack Obama is the candidate who can…” Because I don’t really care about Barack Obama: he’s a crazy, megalomaniac politician. Anyone who wants to be president is bonkers.
So you’re not a fan of politicians.
I’m of the mind that anyone who self-identifies as a Republican or Democrat in the year 2012 is a crazy person. Those terms don’t mean anything anymore.
You were in the middle of a Tumblr feud between Newsweek and the Huffington Post last month — over abortion rights. What happened?
Let me put that together in my head again…oh yeah. I roasted Newsweek's Tumblr — which is quite good — because they expressed shock at the Huffington Post for showing a coat hanger to suggest that’s what the GOP policies on abortion would lead to. Now, that’s fine to express that opinion, but it isn’t fine to do that when you just had Niall Ferguson write a cover article that is devoid of fact and poorly written. That is embarrassing for Newsweek’s record.
And so what happened?
I said, “It’s not so suggestive that the GOP platform would lead to more coat hanger [abortions],” which is, in fact, true. People are going to get abortions whether you want them to or not. And I don’t like Huffington Post! If someone sent me a link to a Huffington Post article, I wouldn’t even read it.
That’s pretty heavy. Where do you draw the line between your jokes and serious opinions?
The first thing I do is something that I don’t do, which is worry about it. I enjoy being funny, and I enjoy funny things, so my mind usually operates in that realm. But I trust people [to understand] when I turn on a dime from funny to serious.
Why use Tumblr as your official website?
I warmed up to it. There is an elegance to the way Tumblr works. You’ve got one ever-refreshing column of images, videos, links…it’s just a very clean way to get stuff. Facebook is a disaster; it’s like if you pulled together a bunch of garbage and tried to hold it together with yarn or old shoelaces. It’s contradictory, ever-changing, just nonsense, whereas Tumblr’s like, “Nope! Here it is. Like it or don’t.”
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