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March 20, 2024 38 mins

Minnie questions Rob Delaney, comedian, actor, and writer. Rob shares stories of dealing with the grief from losing his son, why his career in tech companies didn't last long, and how a Boston Red Sox hat led to him meeting his wife.

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:02):
Well, hello everybody, and welcome to the Mini Driver Bonanza
and wild West Review podcast.

Speaker 2 (00:09):
I can't believe we're going to be talking about Bonanza TV.

Speaker 1 (00:13):
It's an important show, very important.

Speaker 2 (00:17):
Hello, I'm Mini Driver. I've always loved Preust's questionnaire. It
was originally in nineteenth century parlor game where players would
ask each other thirty five questions aimed at revealing the
other player's true nature. In asking different people the same
set of questions, you can make observations about which truths
appear to be universal. And it made me wonder, what

(00:39):
if these questions were just the jumping off point, what
greater depths would be revealed if I asked these questions
as conversation starters. So I adapted Prus's questionnaire and I
wrote my own seven questions that I personally think are
pertinent to a person's story. They are when and where
were you happiest? What is the quality you like least
about yourself? What relationship, real or fictionalized, defines love for you?

(01:04):
What question would you most like answered, What person, place,
or experience has shaped you the most? What would be
your last meal? And can you tell me something in
your life that's grown out of a personal disaster, and
I've gathered a group of really remarkable people, ones that
I am honored and humbled to have had the chance

(01:24):
to engage with. You may not hear their answers to
all seven of these questions. We've whittled it down to
which questions felt closest to their experience, or the most surprising,
or created the most fertile ground to connect. My guest
today on many questions is Rob Delaney. I think people

(01:44):
think of Rob as a brilliant comedian and actor, and
I mean I do too, But the thing that has
always stayed with me about him is his writing. I
loved the finely crafted, hilarious darkness and truth of his
and the wonderful Sharon Horgan's show Catastrophe, but it is
his book A Heart that Works, that I returned to

(02:06):
again and again. We first met over social media when
I was on a TV show called Speechless, where I
played a mum with a nonverbal kid, and we'd had
this conversation about signing because his son, Henry, had a
tracheotomy and couldn't speak. His frankness and generosity in sharing
Henry's condition and looking for solutions for him were so

(02:27):
diligent and thorough. He was clearly a devoted father who
happened to be extremely funny. Henry died in twenty eighteen
from an ependymoma, which is an aggressive form of cancer
in the shape of a brain tumor. Somehow Rob and
his family survived Henry's death, and Rob went on to

(02:48):
write A Heart That Works, which to me really is
one of the clearest, most keenly observed meditations on life,
love and grief that I've ever read. It is a
great privilege to get to talk to Rob today. Now,
what do you want to ask me? Rob?

Speaker 1 (03:05):
Okay the pod? So, I know this is your podcast,
but I first wanted to say not too long ago.
You know, I have kids, and sometimes after you've watched
you know, Goonies and Gremlins and all the ones that
you can watch with their kids, there you realize there's
like a finite amount, right, So I was like, for god,
what next Phantom of the Opera? And so this is

(03:26):
what I thought putting it in. I was I was like,
this is just to kill some time with my kids,
and I put it in. And it turns out Joel
Schumacher is the best possible person to direct that insane story,
and the movie was superb and I was weeping at
the end. So this is a full throated endorsement of

(03:48):
The Phantom of the Opera, in which you played Carlotta.
Am I right about that? Yes, yes, just I'll watch
it again.

Speaker 2 (03:55):
I am so glad that your transition from the movies
of childhood into more adult Fair was fans of the Opera.
I think I was in a different film to everybody
else in that film, and I rather like the film.

Speaker 1 (04:09):
That I was in.

Speaker 2 (04:09):
Yeah, I mean, I like fanso of the Opera, but
I also like this weird confection.

Speaker 1 (04:15):
You know, you realize he's sort of one of those
guys who're like, what is he up to? And then
he really his work ripens and retrospect and you look
at it and you're like, god, damn it, you know,
because there's the ones you love out of the gate,
and then there's ones where you're like really, and then
you look back and you're like, no, that's awesome.

Speaker 2 (04:30):
He's amazing. He's amazing, And I'm telling you go watch
his Batman.

Speaker 1 (04:37):
I will.

Speaker 2 (04:39):
His Batman. He's a genius and the funniest, the funniest
man to hang out with the wiest set. I don't
know if I've said it on this podcast. When we
were filming our set was the happiest set on the lot.
And they were filming Eyes wide Shirts at the same time,
and they were also filming Alexander, two sets that were

(05:00):
I would say, dark, less happy. We got some notes
slipped under our studio door, which was hilarious from the
eyesword shut studios, saying don't look at any of us
when we are going in and out of the studio.
Obviously we sent them notes back saying we love you

(05:22):
and we see you. But the other thing was Colin Farrell,
he'd made phone booth with Joel, was I think often
trying to escape his set. And he would come and
he had that very blonde hair and you'd see him
sitting in his funny outfit with his very bright platinum hair,

(05:45):
watching us either light a huge dance number or rehearse
it and practice it. And he was so happy there
and it was the happiest set. It was proper song
and dance and amazing and Joel wouldn't have it any
other way. And if there was any bad behavior, obviously
not from me, because I was happy in my wig
with my small dog. But there was some bad behavior

(06:07):
and he was so hysterically funny about it because what
he'd do is he'd gather everyone together, not single out
the person who was being a total ass, and he
would say, he'd be like, I just want you in now.

Speaker 3 (06:21):
There's nothing I like more in the whole world than
a funeral scene. And if you want to make me
give you a huge fucking funeral, I will do it. Wow,
And I'll get Andrew to write a funereal song.

Speaker 2 (06:37):
That was its quality. He was amazing. I love love him,
Thank you. I'm so glad that your children loved it.

Speaker 4 (06:46):
They like it.

Speaker 2 (06:47):
Where they frightened?

Speaker 1 (06:48):
Yeah, at times they were are you okay? When I'm
weeping at the end, I'm being like, that's what That's
what it looks like. Strongly pro phantom style relationship, underground cavern,
you know, imprisonment, tutelage, all that stuff is what makes
a relationship sing powodynamics trauma.

Speaker 2 (07:13):
I'm very glad that we've got into Rob's idea of
love so early on. Where and when were you happiest?

Speaker 1 (07:25):
Oh boy, well it's funny now, I mean, you know,
to hit the ground running hard when I hear happiness. Now.
You know, you know, Minnie, that I have a son
named Henry who died five years ago, And so when

(07:46):
I dare to feel happy now, which I do, there
is it's almost like if you look like a marble
tabletop that was white, but it had all these gray
marble marblings, I guess you would call it in them.
That's what my happiness looks like now. My happiness is
not like monochromatic. It's shot through with sadness. You know.

(08:09):
I rode my bicycle here today and I passed the
house that Henry died in, and I looked in the window.
Other people live there now, but I looked by as
I rode by my bike and thought of Henry in
his final weeks and days. So I guess anytime now
that I'm holding ideally more than one family member, I

(08:33):
do kind of like to be smushed by them. But
if I can have, say, at least two boys, and
I have three boys who are alive. Now, if I'm
holding two or more family members and just sort of
tousling their hair, that's the most happy I can be. Yeah,
I love it. And happiness for me now was different

(08:54):
because I now know what the things that we love
most in treasure the most and believe are going to
like outlast us might not. So I know how fleeting
it all is. So I could be wrong, but I
do feel like my perception of time and the sort

(09:16):
of impermanence of life is different from most people, not everybody,
because the people who've been through the same as me
and worse. But I would say more than your average civilian.
I know how it can all just go away, And
so yeah, holding, smelling, squeezing more than one family member,

(09:41):
That's what I like to be. I mean, I would
like to lie down on a couch and just have
them all sit on top of me, and then I
would be like, this is it.

Speaker 2 (09:47):
I love the smush version of happiness, and I fully
endorse and agree with that. I think it's really interesting
the idea that is super binary about things like happiness
and sadness and right and wrong, given that most of
our world takes place in the gray. I love that

(10:11):
idea that happiness contains sadness and sadness contains happiness, and
that it's not this idea of it being pure unadulterated joy,
but happiness is being able to ride your bike by
the house where Henry died. And it's sad, but I
was thinking that the other day Rob and I did

(10:32):
this amazing event called Letters Live at the Albert Hall together.
And whenever I see Rob, because I have a son
called Henry and Rob has a son called Henry, I
feel connected because of our Henry's and I think about
your Henry. And Rob just became a citizen of the
United Kingdom.

Speaker 1 (10:49):
Sure did, which welcome.

Speaker 2 (10:51):
I can see you're drinking tea. Well done. Part of
that is Henry lived here, Henry died here in England,
and there is a connection to that which is wrapped
up in the moving forward of your own lives, of
yours and your wife and your children. He is part
of the roots of that. And that's to me incredibly
beautiful and happy, notwithstanding the profound, unimaginable for most of

(11:17):
us sadness of losing a child. So I think we
could all stand to have it all intertwine a bit
more and not be so frightened of things holding more
than one truth.

Speaker 1 (11:32):
Yeah, and you've got to let it all move through you.
There's this quote, I'm not like a practicing Christian. I
did grow up going to Catholic church and stuff. But
when I got sober twenty years ago, I got this
recovery book and I had a quote in the beginning
from a guy named Jesus Christ, and the quote said,

(11:54):
if you bring forth what is within you, what is
within you will save you. If you do not bring
forth what is within you, what is within you will
destroy you. And no, I don't know if he said that,
but it made it past random house copy editors and
all that, and that really struck me because, like, if
you let stuff move through you and don't deny it.

(12:18):
I'm not saying if you're like I should go slap
that guy in the road, that you should do that.
But if you haven't urge to write a song or
roll down hill even though you're forty, then do it,
you know what I mean, Because if you don't, that
stuff's gonna build up and you're gonna have a heart
attack three weeks earlier than you would have otherwise. You know,
get a pull up up your ass because you're just
so wound up tight and you yeah, you don't put

(12:44):
a pup grows in case there are doctors listening. Carry
carry on, carry on, But you know what I mean.
You've got to let it flow through you. And so
if you're feeling sad, feel sad. It's not bad to
be sad, It's normal. And if you let it happen,
then it'll dissipate, you'll kind of tabolize it. But if
you're like, don't you feel sad, then you're in real trouble.

(13:04):
And it has only taken me almost fifty years to
learn that on paper, and now I'm trying to really
absorb it and work with it.

Speaker 2 (13:12):
Can I ask you, because I'm fascinated about this idea
of happiness, were you aware of a period where you
felt guilty for feeling happiness in the first times that
you felt it after Henry died?

Speaker 1 (13:27):
Yes?

Speaker 2 (13:28):
And were you very clear about that? And did you
either have help or did you help yourself by going,
this is on its way to somewhere else, and this
is just what is and I'm going to be in
the isness of this.

Speaker 1 (13:42):
So I was really really lucky that i had years
of twelve step recovery under my belt because I'm as
messy and as selfish and as kinked and calcified does anybody,

(14:03):
but due to recovery I've been able to sort of
not like hate those facts, and I can sort of
turn on a light switch and look at them and
be like honest about them and then gradually start to
work through them. So when Henry died and I heard

(14:25):
that there were bereaved parent groups that you could go
to and be around other bereaved parents, I didn't do
what some people would do. And I would say more
of these people would be men than women, because this
is a more sort of classically negative masculine trade. I'm
not saying you can't. You many can't have classically negative,

(14:47):
what are considered masculine trades, but a lot of men
would be like, yeah, I'm just gonna just watch the
football and maybe drink a little bourbon and stuff it down,
and I'm not gonna go talk to somebody about my field.
You know, my son's dead. I'll just be said forever,
things will be terrible, forever. That's fine. But I was like, Nope,
I'm going directly to the bereathed parents group. And that
was super helpful because I remember the first time I

(15:08):
saw a film after Henry died, and this would be
months after he died. I'm like going to a movie
in the daytime alone, and I'm thinking to myself, how
dare I go to a movie? What kind of monster

(15:30):
goes to a movie when their son's ashes are sitting
on a shelf at home, you know, and some are
scattered in places that he loved. You're gonna go to
a movie. But like I would tell a different breathed parent, like, hey, man,
you know what, go to a movie, or like have

(15:51):
bacon on the cheeseburg, Get the bacon, you know, like
you have an hour between meetings and you just happened
to walk by a place that does half hour foot
massages in a little chair. Get this studid thing. Your
kid died, you know. But to me, it was like,
you can't go to a movie. And so luckily talking

(16:11):
to other berieved parents that were like, mate, you can
go to a movie, and in fact, you should go
to a movie. And as a bereaved dad or mom
who's years ahead of you in this journey, I'm actually
gonna prescribe that you go to a movie. And so yeah,
I definitely felt guilt. I get it because our big
frontal lobes like look at you and me, we write
books and like are like, you know, like look at

(16:34):
her to thinking and I are talking and uh like
were These frontal lobes are not the most helpful things
that we have, or rather, at the very least, they're
not the oldest parts of us. The oldest parts of
us are like smell and like fight or flight. Right,
So my frontal lobe can get it that I shouldn't

(16:56):
feel guilty about my son's death. He died of a
brain to with all they know about brain tumors now,
they don't know why they happen, and this is one
they don't know how to fix. So I didn't put
it in there. So it's not my fault that he died.
I can say that, right, But the sense of smell
part of my brain, the fight or flight part, is like, yeah,

(17:17):
but he died before you. You know, it's your fault.
You did something wrong. You know, you didn't dig a
whole miles under the earth in Sweden to try to
find a friggin root that you could get the essence
of to cure his cancer.

Speaker 2 (17:32):
You didn't.

Speaker 1 (17:33):
It's your fault, you know, And so you need to
know that you're going to feel the guilt if your
kid dies before you. It's part of what happens when
your kid dies, And intellectually you'll understand that it's not
your fault, but you'll still feel guilty. Yeah, and I
guess the next thing I'll say is, oh, well, exactly,

(17:57):
I'm not able to sew that up with like a
I have to.

Speaker 2 (18:00):
It's really interesting hearing about that. And I love the
idea that your doctors prescribing you were other breps who
are just a little further down the corridor than you were.
And that's that makes me happy.

Speaker 1 (18:14):
Good you had that support.

Speaker 2 (18:32):
Okay, so next question, what quality do you like least
about yourself?

Speaker 1 (18:37):
I mean, the thing that first came to mind is selfishness.
And it's weird because the selfishness I feel now at
age forty six, I think, I am you.

Speaker 2 (18:49):
Look forty six, thank you in a nice way. I'm
fifty three, so I think is a spring chicken.

Speaker 1 (18:58):
We're very foxy fifty three.

Speaker 2 (19:00):
That's true.

Speaker 1 (19:00):
I mean, I no, people can't see you. It is
interesting that you do wear a ball gown that barely
fits the train of your ball gown barely fits into
the little studio, which is funny.

Speaker 2 (19:08):
Your rider is weird, and you insisted on me wearing this,
So that's what I'm doing.

Speaker 1 (19:15):
That's the funniest possible. Yes, And like I said, you're
wearing it and you and you said it's because I insisted.
That's the funniest thing I've heard in several months. Okay,
So what I was gonna say is the selfishness that
I feel at forty six is not very different from
the selfishness I felt as a little kid. It's weird,
is it like Boston Irish Catholic like guilt that you're

(19:38):
born with, Because as a little kid, I can remember
doing chores like sweeping the kitchen and being like, I
don't think anybody's going to see that pile. I'm not
going to sweep it, you know, And in that moment, I'm.

Speaker 2 (19:50):
Not getting credit for it.

Speaker 1 (19:51):
I'm not doing it right. And even in that moment,
and we're talking, being nine, being like I'm a piece
of shit, Like only a piece of shit wouldn't do that.
And my parents never called me a piece of shit. Yes,
they grew up in Catholic orphanages and Catholic schools and

(20:14):
were abused by nuns, nikes and stuff, so maybe they
couldn't help it pass a little that at all? But
why did I feel that way? And then when I
found booze at age twelve was the first time I
got drunk before I figured out that you could put
something in your body that would make everything magic and perfect.

(20:36):
I would steal and like vandalize, and then it was like, oh,
you can vandalize yourself and then everything seems great, so
you don't have to do things externally. You can just
pour booze and feel amazing. That felt really good. And
so now still there's a part of me that is
still like the little kid who's like sweep the whole floor.

(21:00):
You know, it's so weird.

Speaker 2 (21:02):
Like, but how is that selfish a little twelve year old?

Speaker 1 (21:05):
So I don't think it is. So I guess we're
discovering in real time here. My answer is not rational, right.

Speaker 2 (21:13):
I can't believe that as a human being you would
have a non rational to a traumatic question.

Speaker 1 (21:21):
Oh. I mean another one that would perhaps be more
rational is anger, you know, which is also something I
really need to start thinking about more because I'm the
largest person in my house by a lot. Until recently,
I weighed more than the other four people put together.

Speaker 2 (21:38):
And no wonder you want them to assist on you,
I know, right, just.

Speaker 1 (21:41):
Balances that, like everybody in my house is allowed to
get angry except me because I'm big, and it's scary
when I get angry, you know. And I don't hit
people or anything like that, but sure I'll yell or swear.
And nobody likes to get yelled or sworn at by
somebody who's six foot. They just it's not pleasant, right,

(22:02):
And so the kind of new thing I'm working on
is trying to like figure out how do you be
angry if you're giants? Yeah, because I don't want to
scare my family, but they'll be like crazy dervishes and
then I'm like god damn it and fist on the table, right,
and then people start crying, you know what I mean.
And so it's sort of a weird one because I

(22:24):
just said earlier you have to feel emotions as you
have them. You don't have to act on them and
like do crazy stuff. But I'm not a bad person
because I'm angry. Nobody is. You know.

Speaker 2 (22:35):
I wonder if there is a field where one can
go just to experience.

Speaker 1 (22:40):
A real physical field you're yeah.

Speaker 2 (22:42):
Like your anger. Wait, there's a great roomy quote that
I'm going to butcher out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and
right doing. There is a field. I'll meet you there,
And I really like that, But I actually wish there
was a physical field where one could go and actually
be experience orientially angry, because I sometimes you don't want

(23:03):
to channel it into something else. We live in polite
society and we don't want to frighten our children. But
that expression of anger. I've screamed underwater when I was
angry when my mom died and I buried her ashes
at the place where I surf, and one day I
was so sad and so angry that she was at

(23:25):
the bottom of the sea and not sitting on the
beach drinking of old Crantonic and I went under and
I screamed so loudly, and it was just about the
most satisfying thing I wonder. I just wonder about the
expression of it, and I know that it's difficult to
do that. And then all the idea of using yourself
as a crucible that we put anger in and turning
it into something else, I know that's positive and.

Speaker 1 (23:46):
It's weird, and I'm thinking about it because now I'm
five years from my son's death, and I really kind
of wouldn't chastise anybody else who was struggling with anger.

Speaker 2 (24:03):
Love. What person, place, or experience most altered your life.

Speaker 1 (24:08):
Let me give an example here. So I mentioned my
drinking earlier, almost twenty two years ago. I drank into
a blackout and I drove my car into the Los
Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Speaker 2 (24:24):
Where is that?

Speaker 1 (24:26):
There's like satellites all over the place. Which one did
you drive into the corner of Pico and Genesee?

Speaker 2 (24:32):
I think, oh, exactly where that is?

Speaker 1 (24:35):
Okay, well, which is why I targeted it.

Speaker 2 (24:38):
Probably, but also drinking, try and forget that that part
carrying out.

Speaker 1 (24:43):
No, I drank into a blackout and I don't remember
the accident, but apparently I did drive into that building.
No one else was involved, thank goodness. But I got
badly hurt and was arrested and I could either go
to jail or I could go to rehab and then
a sober living halfway house. I chose re I've been
sober living for a few months and started getting sober,

(25:05):
and when I had that accident, nobody I knew heard
about it and was like what they were like, Yeah,
we knew that was going to happen. So I knew
I can't drink anymore. You know, my drinking not only
is it a danger to myself, which I had been
at peace with, you know, as pathetic as that might be,
it was, that was okay. But when I realized, holy mackerel,

(25:26):
if I could pass out and kill somebody, I'm behind
the wheel and I don't even remember getting in the car.
This has to stop. I don't want to kill anybody.
I don't want to hurt anybody. And so it started
to get sober and go to twelve Step meetings and stuff.
And when I was sober for a year, this emacated
junkie came into a meeting and I had on a

(25:49):
Boston Red Sox cap and this guy goes, hey, I'm
from Boston, and I go, oh cool, And I introduced
myself and talked to him for a little bit. Was
just getting off of pills and was a mess, you know,
really close to death. And I gave him my phone number.
I wrote it down a little piece of paper and

(26:10):
I was like, well, hey, give me a call and
we're gonna talk about the Red Sox and not taking
pills and drinking bourbon. And then one year later at
the same meeting and this muscular, tanned, beautiful guy comes
up to me and is like, hey, Rob, and I
said hello, and he goes, hey, it's Will. Remember we
met a year ago. And he pointed to the corner

(26:31):
where he had been, like, you know, curled up in
a ball and he was like yeah, I was like skinny,
a junkie, and you were nice to me and gave
me a number and I was like, yeah, my god,
like it was like a different person. And so we
got to talking and he's like, listen, before I went
off the rails, I worked at this camp for people
with disabilities, and now they've got some spride under my belt.

(26:53):
I'm gonna start one up here in LA because this
souther one was in Massachusetts. Would you be interested in
volunteering at it? And I was like, yeah, yeah, it
would be and so I did so, and I loved it,
working with kids and adults with Down syndrome cerebral palsy,
and it was really wonderful. I was twenty six, twenty

(27:15):
seven and then summer was rolling around. So the mothership
that his camp had was the satellite of was in Massachusetts,
and I decided to go to that. And this was
before Obama Care, so I had to get a job
that had benefits. And so I was working at this
terrible internet company and I walked into my boss's office

(27:35):
and I said, I'm quitting, I think, because I'm going
to go volunteer at this camp for a few weeks.
And he goes, you know what, that would look good
if we let you do that. That would be just
be good for tax purposes. We can say like, oh,
we volunteer, so go do it. We'll pay you half
your salary while you're doing it, then you can come back.
And I was like what. It wasn't like hey, that's cool.

(27:57):
It was like that would look good for us, so
yet you're not. And I was like, oh all right.
So I went and the day I got there, I
met the woman who is now my wife. She was
a counselor. Yeah, and the camp was one on one,
so every counselor had one camper because it was heavy
duty stuff, you know, like a teenager or an adult

(28:18):
with cebral palsy y. You know, you're lifting them and
bathing them and stuff. So we each had I had
an adolescent with tarble palsy, and she had a teenager
with cerebral palsy. And so I just met this beautiful
woman who was a school teacher and was taking the
summer to do this volunteer work. And she was in
a bikini which I recently found in storage when going
through some old stuff. So it was so tiny. So

(28:40):
in a sense, it wasn't my fault, but she you know,
so we fell in love. Yeah, so this guy. So
basically what I'm saying is like, the thing was I
don't know was that? Was it my alcoholism? Was it
the accident? Was it me putting out my hand in
the spirit of the twelve Steps and saying like, hey
man and doing what you're told in that program? You know?

Speaker 2 (29:03):
Was it him not calling you in that year and
waiting to come back transform about exactly?

Speaker 1 (29:09):
And So to me, that's a pretty miraculous turn of events.

Speaker 2 (29:14):
I agree.

Speaker 1 (29:14):
So I wind up falling in love with that woman.
We've been together for years, and then we wind up
amazingly having a son who gets disabled by cancer, brain
cancer and surgery, and winds up having things like feeding tubes,
breathing tubes and all the things that we learned. How
to take care of and maintain when we met.

Speaker 2 (29:35):
You know, the crazy, the magic of that of that
wonder and that love. Yeah, none of this disallows the
agony of what happened. But I'm so interested in how
much grace from will being near death just saying hi
to you and you probably maybe even because I've done

(29:56):
it myself and alan on meetings through my life performatively
oh hey, take my number, and then kind of forgetting
about that person, re meeting him, his life transformed. You
meeting your wife, you having Henry, you both being fully
qualified in the largeness of both of your hearts, and
also expertise from having volunteered to take care of him.

Speaker 1 (30:19):
Insane. It just goes to show you that you cannot
know the effect of one tiny act of kindness can
get rolling like a snowball and become a wonderful avalanche.

Speaker 2 (30:50):
In your life. Can you tell me about something that
has grown out of a personal disaster?

Speaker 1 (30:58):
Well, I feel like I just did with the thing
of the car accident leading to being married to my
wife and being having some skills in our back pockets
ready to go to care for Henry. So that's one disaster.
But let me think of another one, maybe like a.

Speaker 2 (31:15):
U turn, like in terms of things are going along
one way and then something happens. It doesn't necessarily have
to be a disaster. But I think the idea of
we're attached to our life going in one way and
something then happens that is ostensibly not what we've planned.
It's challenging to talk about this when you've had a
child who's passed away, because obviously you are here functioning,

(31:37):
this beautiful dad and person and husband, and your very
being here is the answer to this question. But I
wonder if there is, if there was anything in your career,
how did you dovetail out of working at the bad
Internet company into stand up and writing and being a comedian.

Speaker 1 (31:56):
Yeah, so I went to Tish School of the Arts,
where I studied musical theater, and thought like, oh, I
want to do Broadway shows. That's what I want to do.

Speaker 2 (32:06):
I kind of want you to do that, so I'd
love to maybe that can be on the cause.

Speaker 1 (32:10):
But then my final year of university I found live comedy,
and this would be in nineteen ninety eight, and so
as soon as I saw people making people laugh with
stuff that they'd thought up themselves, that I was like, oh,
I want to smoke that crack. Rather than the mediocre

(32:33):
joint of doing something somebody else wrote that they would
do even if I weren't there, they would cast somebody
else in it. I want to do stuff that only
I can do. So I started doing that. And then
after being like what they call a U five meaning
somebody who has under five lines on a soap opera,
you five. This is an AFTRA contract, not even a SAG,
no control they time together. So it's so having like

(32:54):
less than five lines on a couple episodes of all
my children, I was like, obviously I need to go
to Hollywood immediately. And so I go to Hollywood and
you know, like six months later i'd drive into the building.
So then, as I said, I had to get a
job that I didn't want to do so that I
could have health insurance. And it was a company that

(33:17):
I can't use the word invent because they just kind
of stole it from Friendster. But this company came up
with my Space, and so we all kind of got
some like clout from being in the same building as
a guy who was like, let's copy Friendster and call
it MySpace. And so people are like, oh wow, like

(33:38):
you helped invent MySpace and I was like, no, no,
I didn't. So I kind of like failed upward. I
wasn't good at it. I hated it. And then I
would get laid off periodically and go to another company
do like the internet stuff, for like an auto loan
company or a makeup company. And when I got laid
off from the third company got raided or something. One

(34:02):
of them later wound up dead in a motel that
had burned like a really rich guy's found in a
CD motel that it was just like exploded. So I'm
at these companies which are not feeding my soul, to
say the least. And I get laid off from the
third one, and I was like it's time. I'm so,

(34:25):
what did you do? I'm a comedian. Oh my god,
so I'm doing this. This is so funny.

Speaker 2 (34:29):
The motel exploded in flames.

Speaker 1 (34:30):
This is hilario a switch fuld. Yeah, I guess this
would be like two thousand and seven or so, and
I just said it's now or never. So then I
just started doing stand up in La in La.

Speaker 2 (34:43):
Like all those clubs, just like going.

Speaker 1 (34:45):
Multiple sets every night, driving from club to club to
the theater to bar to thie restaurant where people are like,
oh no, there's a comedy show happening. And I just
kept doing that, and so I went from having a
little bit of money in the bank to no money
in the bank, to being horrifically in debt, to my
wife being like, oh my god, what have I got
myself into? And it was funny. I was telling our

(35:07):
babysitter about this last night. At one point my wife
was like, Okay, I like Rob, He's a nice person,
he has good jeens. He isn't gonna be able to
raise a family because so what I'm gonna do is
I'm gonna get pregnant and literally probably won't raise the

(35:29):
child with him, but I'm getting to the point where
I kind of need to have kids, and so I'll
just get pregnant because people have done that and then
and raised the kid on their own. Or maybe I'll
meet somebody, meet somebody who is employeable. Maybe And then
weeks after she got pregnant, I got a couple jobs

(35:49):
at once, like a job writing for my first TV show.
Because at this point I'm sending packets of jokes to
Kimmel Conan Chelsea Handler trying to be a late writer.

Speaker 2 (36:00):
Who gave you the first gig.

Speaker 1 (36:02):
It was a show called Ridiculousness on MTV. It wasn't
a late night show. It's a show that's still running
and dominates MTV. Like there's no music, yeah, because it's
just Ridiculousness, which is like a funny home videos show
hosted by the skater and entrepreneur Rob Dirdick, and so
it's very funny. I was on the first season of

(36:25):
this show, Ridiculousness, and that changed my life. And shortly
after that I got a book deal, and then I
got to make a pilot for Comedy Central and it began, yeah,
like I started to be able to earn a living
from just jokes and writing and acting and stuff, whereas
before that I super didn't, or rather I did upon

(36:48):
graduation from school. And then when I drove into the building,
that stopped and then just had a what we'll call
I don't know if I was called a fallow period,
because it was necessary. I think that's sixty the ground
was being fertilized.

Speaker 2 (37:03):
That is my podcast.

Speaker 4 (37:06):
And I can't tell you how oh, I can't tell
you how much I'm going to listen to this and
remember things when I need to be reminded of things.

Speaker 1 (37:18):
I can't believe how honest I was with you and
talked about things that I wouldn't normally ever talk about it.

Speaker 2 (37:24):
I'm so glad that you did and were and we
hug your wife from me, I will And have you
got a fifteen year old?

Speaker 1 (37:32):
Is? No? My oldest is twelve?

Speaker 2 (37:34):
Ah? The twelve year old?

Speaker 1 (37:35):
Yeah?

Speaker 2 (37:37):
Oh yes, I see, because Henry was born in two
thousand and eight. Yeah, I got it. Well, maybe we'll
all cross paths in the park. We can go and
play cricket instead of softball.

Speaker 1 (37:46):
Wow. I'll have to learn how. But if you're willing
to be patient with me, it's really good.

Speaker 2 (37:50):
I'd bowl under arm to you anyway. Okay, great, Thank you.
You're an angel.

Speaker 1 (37:55):
You are.

Speaker 2 (37:55):
Thank you. Mini Questions is hosted and written by Me
Mini Driver, Executive produced by Me and Aaron Kaufman, with
production support from Jennifer Bassett, Zoe Denkler, and Ali Perry.
The theme music is also by Me and additional music

(38:16):
by Aaron Kaufman. Special banks to Jim Nikolay Addison, O'Day,
Henry Driver, Lisa Castello, a Nick oppenheim, A, Nick Mueller
and Annette Wolfe at w kPr, Will Pearson, Nicki Etoor,
Morgan Lavoy and man gesh Her Tigadore
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