Catas­tro­phe! (Not Gene ‘s col­umn)

The Buffalo News - - OPINION - Did Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers Group

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?

Gene Wein­garten

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