“Don’t Quit College:” NYU Local Speaks To Rob Delaney [UPDATE]

Comedian and NYU Alumnus Rob Delaney will perform at Skirball  this Saturday, November 10th as part of the 2012 NY Comedy Festival. Originally from Boston, Delaney graduated from Tisch’s musical theater program and eventually found himself working toward a life as a comedian. He recently sold out his show in London and boasts a Twitter following of 645,904 fans and counting. He has been listed as one of  “The Funniest People on Twitter” on sites like Huffington Post, Vice Magazine, Paste Magazine, Comedy Central, and Funny or Die.

Much of his Twitter fame has to do with his scathing and hilarious tweets about Mitt Romney, which have deemed him “Romney’s Twitter Nemesis.” His twitter isn’t solely dedicated to politics; for example, when Hurricane Sandy blew through NYC last week, Delaney’s Twitter focused on the NYU Hospital evacuation. Delaney blogged about the event and retweeted the many people who shared their stories about NICU survival. He is also known to talk at length about masturbation and other bodily functions. We were lucky enough to talk to the versatile Rob Delaney about his upcoming show at Skirball, his time at Tisch, and more.

What can we expect at the Skirball show? You’ve been touring quite a lot lately—are your shows highly rehearsed or do you use some improvisation too?

My material is prepared beforehand though I riff and discover new stuff at every show. So basic structure and points I want to get across stay the same, but the way I get there can differ from night to night.

It must be a crazy feeling to return to your Alma Mater for such a huge performance. How does it feel?

It feels great! It actually feels like “Hey, I did it. I did what I set out to do.” So I’m very grateful.

Did NYU have a big hand in your career? Did you always know that this was what you wanted to do? Do you have any advice for NYU kids who aspire to comic fame? 

I actually studied musical theater when I was at NYU if you can believe that. I started to do that after I graduated, but a couple years out of college I got in a big car accident. Once I got out of the hospital I said “I want to be a comedian now.” I sort of felt like I had a second chance and I just wanted to laugh and make others laugh.

My advice to current students is to just work harder than anyone you know and don’t quit. Even when you SHOULD quit. It’s a mix of hard work and a substantial amount of just laser-like intensity that might not even be good for you. Stay humble, work hard and be nice. It’s a myth that everyone in the entertainment industry is a jerk. Sure, some are, but I just choose not to work with them.

You’ve been interviewed quite a lot in the last year especially as your twitter fame has grown exponentially along with Mitt Romney’s rise to candidacy. Do you think a medium or platform can ever overshadow comedic content? If you were to delete your twitter, would you lose a huge portion of your fans?

 I am VERY aware that I wouldn’t be doing this interview if it weren’t for Twitter. Twitter is a powerful tool that was integral to getting me to this point. That said, it’s a tool. It’s also a place to practice and hone my joke writing skills. So I guess it’s like a powerful Swiss Army knife. I’d never delete my Twitter, but I work hard to create other things and opportunities that could displace its importance in my life.

 In what ways do you think comedy adds to political discussion? How do you feel that your satiric voice has affected the impending election?

 Comedy roots out bullshit better than most other forms of discourse because the laugh response is involuntary. So I find comedy helpful in getting closer to the truth, which the entire political process seems designed to thwart. I don’t pretend that my voice has affected the election at all. If I’ve made one kid pick up a book or look a little deeper into an issue, I’ll be happy.

What’s up with your twitter relationship with @Walmart? 

One day I just read how awful their responses to customers’ questions were so I just thought I’d start asking them questions they’d NEVER answer, like really depressing personal questions or confessions. Their social media person tries to fake “engage” with people by asking “Are you on Team Edward or Team Jacob?” as though they’ll even read the answer or care. You’re not a “cool friend,” Walmart, you’re a terrifyingly large multi-national corporation. Don’t try to “rap” with “tweens.” They’re awful.

You are writing a memoir. Have other comedic memoirs influenced your writing? 

Of course. There are so many great ones. Two recent ones I’ve loved are How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran and Tasteful Nudes by Dave Hill. Both fantastic.

The show at Skirball is discounted for NYU students ($12). The tickets are sold out as of now, but more tickets will be released soon. We will give you updates so you can snag a ticket.

Follow @robdelaney on Twitter for a good laugh.

[UPDATE]: A second Rob Delaney show at NYU has been added this Saturday at 9:30 PM, as a benefit for Hurricane Sandy relief. Tickets are $25, and 100% of the proceeds will go to helping victims of the hurricane. Hit up Ticket Central!

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