If you’re on Twitter, you know who Rob Delaney (@RobDelaney) is. If you’re not on Twitter, you probably have a stable home life and a loving family without need for constant validation and attention. I’m on Twitter.
Twitter is a platform made for those with the insatiable need to overshare. Some do it by sharing mundane details about their life, like their thoughts on the McRib, whereas others turn it into an art form. This is what @RobDelaney has done, inspiring many other comedians to use the platform for what it seems made for: oversharing in a witty and artistic way.
Now the man that Comedy Central coined the “Funniest Person on Twitter,” is out with his first book. Surprisingly moving and obviously hilarious, Delaney covers his bed wetting years (I say years because it went well past 6, and 10, and 18, and 24…), alcoholism, depression, his family and his comedy (duh) in just under 300 pages!
Full Disclosure: Though I respect Delaney’s work, I had a less-than-subtle interest in interviewing him to see what I had to do to get him to follow me and/or fall in love with me. Not above sexual favors, I was determined to in some way validate* my work in comedy by getting a follow back and/or handy.
* Refer to the first paragraph about those being on Twitter for validation and attention.
@ThoughtCatalog: People are familiar with typical books by stand-up comics, often times they’re vanity projects. You thanked Sarah Silverman in the acknowledgments for showing that it’s okay to “go deep.” Did you struggle with tone? And on that, did you struggle with your persona as “Funniest Person on Twitter” and how that would apply to long-form writing?
@RobDelaney: No, my stand-up is much longer form than my tweets, obviously. By that I mean I don’t do stand-up in the tradition of Mitch Hedberg or Steven Wright, I tell longer stories. And I’ve written for magazines for some years before I wrote the book. Whenever I do get into longer form stuff, I’m more interested in being as honest as possible first, and funny second. So I sort of think, when I’m on stage, I have to make you laugh, the end. I use whatever tools that are at my disposal to make that happen. The main goal is to make you laugh. And then when I’m writing, when you’re alone, which you frequently are when you’re reading a book, you want to have a more varied, nuanced experience, and that’s gonna include stretches of focusing on a particular memory or emotion in a more drawn out fashion. I just think that produces a more satisfying reading experience. So I do operate differently if I’m writing or performing stand-up, and I think people people like that, I know I like that as a consumer. For example, the beloved Stephen Colbert, he’s certainly a candidate for funniest American, and he switches tones often. We’re familiar with his character on “The Colbert Report,” and anytime he does anything else he’s incredibly earnest, and he has a razor sharp wit, and he operates in parody or satire, you know, most days of the week, and when he shows us other sides we listen very closely. Everything that he does is informed or inhabited by his tremendous heart. He cares about what he does. I like Frank Sinatra, a beautifully built cabinet, or a prelude by Chopin, or a gratuitous, filthy joke by Joan Rivers or Bill Burr; I think as long as you work very hard and care about the things you produce, it really doesn’t matter if it elicits laughter or thought or emotional identification.
@ThoughtCatalog: Your musical theater background is going to give total heart boners to so many gays across the country that read this book. Many were surprised by how good of a voice you have after hearing you sing the national anthem at a Dodgers game. Would you ever go back to doing musical theater?
@RobDelaney: Definitely, although I might have to write it myself because I’ve gotten used to performing things that I’ve made up myself. There’s this other stuff I want to do more than musical theater. I could somehow figure out how to do it again.
@ThoughtCatalog: You’re known for your body humor, or bawdy humor. Many comics, myself included, try to shy away from that, just so that we’re not seen as taking the cheap route to a laugh. What is it about bawdy humor that you like? Do you wrestle with whether to do it or not?
@RobDelaney: It’s true that I do a lot, absolutely, and it’s true that I do it because it makes me happy, but I am capable of shame [laughs]. Sometimes I do look at things that I write and think, “Wow, you are a scum bug, or a monster,” and then I just keep doing it anyway. I enjoy it and I will likely continue doing it. But I also enjoy having to be squeaky clean on TV, I enjoy restrictions, I enjoy 140 characters, I enjoy things like that. So when left to my own devices, am I going to talk about sex humor and toilet (I’ll just condense it and call it toilet sex)? Yeah, I am going to do that, just because it brings me joy. It brings joy to my heart.
@ThoughtCatalog: I started a conversation with a hot guy in the locker room about your book. It served my intention of seeing him naked just a little while longer. So thank you. What are other good uses for your book?
@RobDelaney: I’m married and I’m not trying to get into people’s pants, but I like that you had that experience because I do remember fondly being younger and trying to impress women by talking about the books that I’ve read. What that means is, “Hey, I like this book, you might like it…” is just another way of saying, “I want to sweat with you in a naked situation where that book is on the floor, or in a backpack, and we have our mouths stuck to each others genitals.” Books are a wonderful way to flirt. You want to be having sex with people who read. People who read are better at sex, smart people are better at sex, that’s just how it is. And books are sexy, I mean obviously our genitals or bodies are sexy too, but as you get older you can’t be around an idiot. So you should use books to flirt, you should strike up a conversation with my book, or any other book, and try to parlay that into having sexual intercourse with the person you’re talking to. John Waters said, “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em,” and I couldn’t agree more! I’m not going to fuck a non-reader, that’s part of how I fell in love with my wife. We still talk about books, we read aloud to each other all the time in bed. Nothing makes me happier.
@ThoughtCatalog: I didn’t actually get to have sex with the guy [Because I was thinking of you the entire time, sweet, sweet Delaney.]
@RobDelaney: Yeah, but you got to look at him naked and jerk off to him later.
@ThoughtCatalog: True. [Pause in conversation for fond remembrance.] So I’ve known about you for years because of stand-up comedy, but I really became endeared to you when I got testicular cancer, mainly because of your hilarious story about your TC scare. I was bummed it isn’t in the book. Can you share a little of it?
@RobDelaney: I think what is funny about that is what I had to go through. They want to get semen samples from you, and I had heard about sperm banks that had a room where you could go in and jerk off, and I thought, “Whoa, this is great.” They said, “It’s probably not cancer, but to be safe, can we have a few loads?” So I was like, “Great, I probably don’t have cancer and I get to jerk off to their medical grade porn? Wow!” So I was very excited. But they don’t have that room. They want you to jerk off at home, but I didn’t live anywhere near the clinic and I also went to a clinic in Beverly Hills because, if it’s my balls, I want the best. I had to jerk off in a parking garage, well, I didn’t have to jerk off in a parking garage, but I chose to to get the jizz there on time (because the jizz has a half hour before it dies). And this isn’t even in the stand-up, this is beyond horror, but I had to jerk off in a stall at work while a guy aggressively, angrily, symphonically, shit in the stall next to me. Worst, worst possible ejaculation experience of my life, I was yelling at my penis, it was awful.
@ThoughtCatalog: When did you start to notice a difference in audiences after you started tweeting?
[Working up the courage to ask what I have to do to get him to follow me. Send a funny dick pic? Babysit for free? Jesus Dad, why did you make me like this?! You could have hugged me at least once!]
@RobDelaney: It would have probably been in 2010 when I could tweet and then people would come to my shows. I remember tweeting like, “I’m going to be in Toronto,” and, I don’t know if you know this, but Toronto is in Canada, which is a foreign country, and the fact that people came to see me in a foreign country and knew who I was, it was like, “Whoa.” That was pretty special.
[Get to the avatar question. That way maybe he’ll check out my avatar and then just go “Click!”]
@ThoughtCatalog: Because of your avatar, can you even go on a beach these days? And have you considered becoming a spokesperson for Coppertone?
@RobDelaney: I go to the beach, but I wear a trunk style bathing suit. And no, I haven’t for Coppertone, not that they’ve offered. That would be weird, “I’m going to endorse this now,” and they would be like, “We don’t want you to endorse us.” I have the speedo because in maybe 2003, Dave Holmes called me and invited me to a pool party. I was at a mall when he called me, and I thought that I would like to go, I should buy a bathing suit. I just happened to be right by a speedo store and I bought just the most awful, bizarre one they had. Since then I’ve worn it under a wet suit, but I don’t wear it just around because people don’t want to see it, and I respect that.
@ThoughtCatalog: So you’re a Twitter God [God reference used intentionally to stroke ego]. Comedians are begging for your attention in so many ways, often out of respect (myself included). You said in your book, “I think it’s important to hurl ourselves at people with whom we have no shot from time to time. It’s good to be humiliated. It’s good to overreach and fail publicly…” There you were referring to love and romance, but along the lines of public humiliation, what’s the weirdest (or coolest) thing that somebody has done to get your attention on Twitter?
@RobDelaney: The first thing that comes to mind was when I was about to meet Megan Amram (@MeganAmram) for breakfast one day, and she’s like, my real life friend, thank gosh… Why did I say “gosh?”
@ThoughtCatalog: By golly, what’s so wrong with “gosh?”
@RobDelaney: I try not to say “Thank God,” in front of my kid, which is so weird. You just literally heard me have like a Catholic adulthood moment and then get very embarrassed about it. This is where I get embarrassed, I don’t get embarrassed how normal people do, but I’ll think about that for the rest of the day.
So I was on my way to have breakfast with Amram, and I tweeted, “I’m about to have breakfast with Megan Amram. Could you please tweet some poems about meat to her.” And a bunch of people did. And @untresor tweeted a super funny poem about meat to me and Megan. I actually met him in real life the other day, even though it was a couple years ago he sent that tweet. Someone asked me to sign their tits the other day, and I refused. I don’t sign tits. I like tits, why would I ruin your tits with my dumb signature?
— Brandon Gutermuth (@UNTRESOR) February 3, 2011
@ThoughtCatalog: What do I have to do to get you to follow me?
[Yes, I have no shame and will probably die alone.]
@RobDelaney: Have yourself some nice Greek yogurt, treat yourself, do something nice and relaxing for yourself and then I’ll follow you.
[Nice and relaxing? Greek yogurt is delicious, and high in protein, but not necessarily relaxing. Where am I most relaxed? That’s it, I got it…]
Okay @RobDelaney, I held up my end of the deal, now it’s your turn. In the meantime, you can purchase Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage anywhere books are sold. Visit RobDelaney.com to purchase his book, get tour dates, and many other fun Delaney-related magical nuggets.
Interview has been condensed and edited [and emotionally taxing].