Catastrophe! (Not Gene ‘s column)
WASHINGTON – I don’t usually interview celebrities in this column but have made an exception today. We are talking to Rob Delaney, co-writer and co-star of the surprise-hit British sitcom “Catastrophe.” I had an important question that has been nagging at me.
Me: I first became aware of you a few years ago when, as near as I can tell, your sole talent was being a disgustingly vulgar presence on Twitter, some virtually unknown guy incessantly issuing sexually obsessive, unspeakably filthy, utterly vile observations about life in general and human genitalia in specific. So naturally I immediately followed you. Soon I looked around and saw this revolting sideline of yours had gotten you more than a million followers. Producers took note, and now, a short time later, you are the co-writer and co-star of an internationally acclaimed TV series famous for its sophisticated exploration of complex, eternal verities and whatnot. My question is, how did you pull this off and can any lame potty-mouth like me do it?
Rob: Maybe. I was inspired. I joined Twitter in 2009 and I was trying to get hired as a writer for latenight comedy shows. I realized, with its 140-character limit, Twitter was a perfect outlet for stupid, ridiculous, puerile, disgusting jokes, with the important added element of surprise. People get on their cellphones looking for information, like the weather from their local meteorologist or the latest update from their kids’ middle school science department, and WHAM! Punch ‘em right between the eyes! Me: With filth. Rob: Wham! Me: What is your favorite filthy word? Rob: That would probably be [filthy word]. Me: I can’t publish that. Rob: Understood. Me: You are an American, born in Marblehead, Massachusetts, which is a stupid name. How is that different from being born in, say, Knucklehead, Vermont? Rob: I got desensitized to that early. Me: Because you are filming this in Britain, everyone associated with the production sounds more intelligent and cultured than you. You seem like a dog trying to fit in with a roomful of Nobel laureates. Does that get to you?
Rob: Not really. I’ve always been known for punching above my weight class. Hey, the Brits don’t find my filthy word very filthy. They apply it to men and women both, so it is OK. But you know how in the United States “fanny” is a cute word your mom might call your butt? Don’t say that word to a British person. Me: But ... Rob: Just don’t. Me: Last question, then. You and I are both famously atheists. Are you afraid that in the afterlife God will punish us for this? What might that punishment be?
Rob: OK, well if there were a God and He wanted to exact vengeance on someone who didn’t believe in Him, he would be a silly God, and I would be embarrassed for him. Me: I’m not sure that would ... Rob: I know. If he punish us it would be with a steamroller, but it wouldn’t just flatten you, it would be a hot steamroller. So it would also burn you. It would burn you and flatten you at the same time. Me: You are very unusual. Rob: Are we done yet?