Rob Delaney: The US comedian on the power of showing weakness, how ice-cream can save the world, and why Brass Eye is like Beethoven

'I feel very, very grateful to pay my rent with comedy money'

Bungee jumping illegally from Manhattan Bridge is one of the stories you tell in your book. Would it be right to say you used to be pretty indifferent to whether you lived or died?

At the time I was. I look back and think it's too bad that that person didn't care about themself. At this moment, I enjoy being alive and I would like to remain in an alive state until 2077 or so.

Did the confessional nature of the book – and your comedy – come easy?

The best, most enduring stand-up is deeply personal. If you look at Richard Pryor or Bill Cosby, these men are doing biopsies of their hearts and brains and that's the stuff that really stays with you.

Do you think that kind of honesty is harder for men?

I certainly feel that stereotypically masculine urge to not share certain facts that I would perceive as weaknesses. But one of the greatest paradoxes is that by being honest about what you consider a weakness, you arrive at tremendous strength.

So it's about turning your pain into something positive?

Absolutely. It's an alchemy of sorts when done well, so that's what I try to do. I go into the graphic detail that I do because I hope that I can show something to other people. Like, for example, when I was in jail in a wheelchair, and all four of my limbs were unusable, both my arms were broken, and I was in a bloody hospital gown, naked underneath...

Are there any British comedians you particularly rate?

Steve Coogan, Chris Morris... Sharon Horgan's Pulling is probably my favourite sitcom of all time.

Did Brass Eye register in the US?

Nope. I have to wear a nappy when I watch that show. The Brass Eye Special on paedophilia is like the Beethoven Ninth Symphony of comedy. It is any intelligent, passionate, angry comedian's north star.

Read more: Sir Patrick Stewart patches into David Cameron and Barack Obama's Ukraine talks with packet of wet wipes

Is Twitter changing comedy?

For me, it has strengthened my love affair with the English language, as I've learnt what word ingredients fit into this little jewel box of 140 characters.

Have you ever been asked to send a sponsored tweet?

Klondike ice-cream bars asked me to do one, and I said 'Yes, with pleasure'. And I'd do it again.

Where would you draw the line?

I love ice-cream. I genuinely think it makes the world a better place. I think it would be hypocritical of me to do alcohol, though.

You gave up an advertising job to go into comedy and have written about the hit that you took on your salary. Has everything worked out OK?

I feel very, very grateful to pay my rent with comedy money. The pants I have on right now, I bought with comedy money. As long as my family can eat food and live in a reasonable degree of comfort, then that feels like unimaginable wealth, seeing as I made that money by telling jokes.

Lastly, what's the point of life in 140 characters?

Be kind, work hard. It's fucking critical to treat people well. Whatever you do, work until your hands are calloused and your knees are bloody and your vision is blurry. And that's all there is.

I think that was a little over...


American stand-up Rob Delaney, 37, won ‘Funniest Person on Twitter’ at the Comedy Central Awards in 2012. His new book, ‘Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage’, out now, tells the story of his battle with, and recovery from, alcohol addiction. He is married and has two children

Arts and Entertainment
music Malik left the Asian leg of the band's world tour after being signed off with stress last week
Author J.K. Rowling attends photocall ahead of her reading from 'The Casual Vacancy' at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on September 27, 2012 in London, England.
peopleNot the first time the author has defended Dumbledore's sexuality
‘The Late Late Show’ presenter James Corden is joined by Mila Kunis and Tom Hanks for his first night as host
Arts and Entertainment
Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat and Blackberry Wine, wrote a blog post attacking the app and questioning its apparent 'strong Christian bias'
Arts and Entertainment
Leading light: Sharma in London

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
Brooke Magnanti believes her reputation has been damaged by the claim
Arts and Entertainment
A large fire has broken out in London's historic Battersea Arts Centre
Arts and Entertainment
Orla Brady as Anne Meredith, MyAnna Buring as Elizabeth Quinn and Joanna Vanderham as Katherine McVitie in Banished
tvReview: Despite the gritty setting, this drama is as fluffy and soppy as a soap opera
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and co-director Richard Glatzer, standing, on the set during the filming of ‘Still Alice’ in New York
Arts and Entertainment
Great British Sewing Bee finalist Matt Chapple
tvReview: He wowed the judges with an avant garde dress
Arts and Entertainment
Driven to the edge: 'Top Gear' producer Oisin Tymon is said to have had a row with Clarkson
Arts and Entertainment
Nazi officer Matthias Schoenaerts embarks on an affair with married French woman Michelle Williams in 'Suite Francaise'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Prime movers: Caitriona Balfe (centre) and the cast of Outlander
Feasting with panthers: Keynes
Arts and Entertainment
Strung out: Mumford & Sons
Arts and Entertainment
Avant-garde: Bjork
Arts and Entertainment
Despite a decade of reform, prosecutions and convictions of rape has remained consistently low
arts + entsAcademic and author Joanna Bourke in warning to arts world
Arts and Entertainment
Electro Velvet, made up of Alex Larke and Bianca Nicholas, will represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

    The saffron censorship that governs India

    Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

    Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
    Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

    How did fandom get so dark?

    Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
    The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

    Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
    The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

    Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

    Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
    Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

    Disney's mega money-making formula

    'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
    Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

    14 best Easter decorations

    Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
    Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

    The future of GM

    The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
    Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

    Britain's mild winters could be numbered

    Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

    Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
    Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

    The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

    The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
    Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

    Cowslips vs honeysuckle

    It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
    Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

    A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
    Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

    Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

    A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
    Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

    Election 2015

    Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May