Nobody likes a boaster. That’s why God (or self-conscious social media users) invented the humblebrag — a prideful statement couched in a layer of self-deprecation. (You’ll find exhibits A through infinity at Parks and Rec writer Harris Wittels’s eponymous Twitter account.)
Celebrities, particularly, are well-schooled in the art of the humblebrag. They want to seem cool and relatable and down-to-earth, but it’s impossible to keep up that appearance while simultaneously describing what their lives are actually like. After seeing Ronan Farrow’s appearance on last night’s Daily Show, though, I’m convinced that he is to humblebragging what Kanye West is to actual bragging.
Any way you slice it, Farrow’s got an impressive resume. In his 26 years of life, he’s already 1. graduated college at the age of 15, 2. graduated from Yale Law at the age of 21, 3. traveled to Darfur as a UNICEF spokesperson, 4. been a Special Adviser for Humanitarian and NGO Affairs for the Obama Administration, 5. been Director of the State Department’s Office of Global Youth Issues, and 6. snagged a Rhodes Scholarship. And, oh yeah, he’s also about to start hosting his own daily news show on MSNBC. Add in that Farrow has achieved all this despite a family life that’s been… unstable at best, and it’d be easy to forgive him a few straight-up boasts.
Ahh, but that’s not Ronan’s way! Check out how he tries to soften the blow of Jon Stewart’s praise:
His humblebrags, in order from least to most flagrant:
“I grew up in this crazy family. It was 14 of us, and all different races, and speaking six different languages — standard nuclear family.”
“I got in [to Yale Law] at 16, but I took two years off to work at the UN. I had not worked in all my keg stands in undergrad, when I was 11 — a few, not enough. So I had to make up for lost time.”
“My siblings were adopted from really tough backgrounds from all over the world, with physical disabilities, mental disabilities. It gave me a desire to definitely probably not have 14 kids right away — but also to try to give back in some lesser way. Because I may be less awesome, but I still want to be of some use.”
On the Rhodes: “It’s a really cool group of people. They select sort of oddballs, too; you know, Rachel Maddow’s a Rhodes Scholar. So it’s like, smart but offbeat.”
“I did have this engrained sense of, gotta go into some kind of public service, and in addition to watching a lot of Netflix also try to give back something.”
On the Rhodes, also: “If you’re pretentious enough, they let you through the pearly gates.”
“I think I am the type of lawyer that is probably a failed doctor. I saw organic chemistry, and I was like, ‘nope, going to law school.’”
“I went to college at 11. Big nerd. Biiiig nerd… still.”
Charmed by Farrow’s modesty? Soon, you’ll be able to see it every single afternoon: Ronan Farrow Daily debuts Monday at 1 p.m. on MSNBC.