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Published on October 22nd, 2010 | by Sharilyn Johnson


Rob Delaney’s Vice

Of the five Ws of journalism, it’s the “why” that’s always drawn me to comedy and comedians.

I’m not talking about the “I was the class clown” or “I just like attention” clichéd soundbites.

I’m talking about the deeper reasons. What motivates this person to get on stage? How are they benefiting emotionally? In what ways is the audience a factor in that process? Does decency come into play? And should intentions even matter?

Some answers are rooted in decency and positivity, some are dark and unpleasant, some are relatively vanilla.

But what I’ve come to learn is that the “why” is rarely singular. It’s layered and complicated and often a mixture of the aforementioned answers. Comedians have motivations the way Starbucks has drink combinations.

So it’s with great appreciation that I read comedian Rob Delaney’s piece in Vice magazine about why he does comedy, how it helps him, and how he in turn gets to help us.

It is not a simplistic, singular thesis. I’m in awe of his honesty, his depth, and his ability to make the whole thing so damn funny.

Being enthralled with the “why” my whole life has led to me read every theory I can get my hands on. And even so? I’ve never read anything quite like this.

Not everyone will “get” it. But those who appreciate comedians as more than just one-dimensional dancing monkeys most definitely will. If you’re here, I’ll assume you’re in that category. So do yourself a massive favor and check it out.

About the Author

is the author of the book Bears & Balls: The Colbert Report A-Z. Called "one of the city’s most discriminating comedy critics” by NOW Magazine, Sharilyn has been covering comedy for longer than she cares to admit. She served as the comedy reporter for Winnipeg's Uptown Magazine for five years, and was the host of the radio show Laugh Tracks for three seasons. Her work has also appeared in the Toronto Star, the Winnipeg Free Press, The Apiary, and on CBC Radio's national comedy programs LOL and Definitely Not the Opera.

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  • The Colbert Report A-Z

    Third Beat editor Sharilyn Johnson presents the ultimate fan guide to The Colbert Report, available from all major booksellers including amazon.com