Rob Delaney’s political awakening is easily traced to his son Henry’s tragic death at just two years old. The comedian and actor became a tireless advocate for free at the point of service healthcare like the kind Henry received through England’s National Health Service and a strong supporter of politicians like Bernie Sanders who want to eliminate medical bankruptcies.
In a new interview with Esquire to promote Jackie, his first stand-up special in seven years, Delaney contemplated his previous political Pollyannaism, which he sees as a product of the time he and other middle-aged parents came of age.
“We had a brief bubble of time from the fall of the Berlin Wall until the early part of this century where we were like, Oh, I guess everything’s just going to keep getting better a little bit forever. And now it’s back to business as usual with the human race.”
What probably felt like genuine hope back then now seems hopelessly naive, but that doesn’t mean Delaney thinks we should surrender. He paraphrased Chris Hedges paraphrasing Sartre—”We don’t fight fascists to win, we fight them because they’re fascists”—and suggested that in the face of the apocalypse, one of the most powerful things people can do is focus on improving the lives of those close to them.
“Join a union, volunteer at a food bank,” he said. “I think there’s a strong argument to be made that we’ll never have more influence out there in the world than we will in our own home, so be kind to our family members and neighbors. Twitter or CNN is not going to tout that as the cure to what ails the world, but in fact it’s an indispensable part of it.”
This is a remarkably optimistic worldview for a guy who’s been through what he’s been through, one that he summed up with this line: “There’s sunlight if you want to find it, or if you want to make it, you know?”
Jackie is now available on Amazon Prime Video.