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
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • 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.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'