ABOVE: ROB DELANEY
With almost a million followers, writer and comedian Rob Delaney is one of Twitter’s truest success stories: his offbeat, boundary-pushing smarts flew under the radar in comedy clubs for years before that little blue bird forced the zeitgeist to recognize.
Delaney, the man himself, is more on the serious side, heavy with thought, deep, and a bit shy. @RobDelaney, however, lets it all hang loose, tweeting things like, “When you go in the other room I ask your dog what you look like naked.” His debut memoir, rob delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick (Spiegel & Grau), is a telling mix of his battles with alcoholism that lead to bed wetting, near-death accidents, and eventually a car crash that almost killed him.
The book is a departure from Delaney’s lighthearted Twitter account. Though his trademark razor-sharp sensibility is intact, it’s also the reason why some of the memoir’s not-so-funny lessons resonate. But throughout, his raw honesty and “fuck all” mentality will make @RobDelaney fans proud.
We chatted with Delaney about women, his untraditional path, and how it all comes together.
LIANNE STOKES: I got to know you from Twitter, but I got to really love you when you stood up for women during the whole Adam Carolla “dudes are funnier than chicks” debacle. You wrote, in response, a very public post in which you said you tried to hire a lot of people like Megan Amram, Jamie Denbo, and Shelby Fero to work on a high-profile comedy project of yours and none of them could because they were too busy, committed to other gigs. The reason being that they’re hilarious women in demand.
ROB DELANEY: Yes, it’s this thing where I believe in hiring funny people. I’m hoping that the human race will extinguish the whole concept that we associate the ability to be funny with the male sex. I’m hoping that we can just focus and hone in on who and what is funny without the prejudice and stereotypes. I work with funny, talented people, men and women.
STOKES: What does your wife think about the book?
DELANEY: My wife is a very smart woman. We trade books and read to each other at night before we go to bed. She’s extremely supportive.
STOKES: Yes, and in the book, your rock. You say crashing your car drunk was your bottom with the booze.
DELANEY: I knew my drinking would kill me. But that’s the moment that made me realize that my boozing could kill other people. That’s all it took to get me to stop.
STOKES: Your Twitter is what made you famous. In the book, you write that at first you weren’t into it, and thought it was a place where people let other people know they’re going to use the bathroom. Then you saw Louis CK was tweeting and thought you have nothing to lose by trying it, for fun.
DELANEY: Yes, it’s what catapulted me, and I’m very grateful for it. I’d been working as a stand-up comic for a long time and steadily applying for writing gigs in TV. I’d been going the traditional route, struggling, doing stand-up and going out for TV writing gigs. After all the things I was supposed to be doing career-wise, Twitter gave me the power to get my name out there, allowing me to get on the road and tour. The one thing I’m most grateful for is that I had worked all those years prior to getting noticed on Twitter, so when people approached me I had the material to bring it.
STOKES: One of my favorite things in the book is when a comic went on TV and stole one of your jokes, verbatim. You were upset, then used Twitter as a vehicle to be even more prolific: “My silent motto when I began to encounter joke theft on Twitter was ‘Go ahead and take ‘em, motherfucker. Here come five more.'”
DELANEY: Having one of my stand-up jokes taken from me was crappy. Stealing is wrong, and it hurt. But then I thought, “This person did something mean to me, I’m going to make good on it. I’m going to write 50 more jokes in place of that one stolen joke. I’m going to kick ass.” You know what the greatest reaction to having been wronged is? Taking something shitty someone did to you and instead of being bitter and destructive, turn it into a huge success for yourself and others. That is the best revenge.
ROB DELANEY: MOTHER. WIFE. SISTER. HUMAN. WARRIOR. FALCON. YARDSTICK IS OUT TOMORROW, NOVEMBER 5.