Rob Delaney, Soho Theatre, London
Friday 05 October 2012
If ever there was a room full of smug ticket holders, this was it. You can hardly blame them: Soho Theatre’s cabaret basement holds 150, and Rob Delaney has amassed 600,000+ followers on Twitter. Needless to say, these shows – the American comedian’s first in the UK – sold out in minutes.
But after the smugness comes expectation, and tonight, Delaney meets it. From start to finish he’s the archetypal “safe pair of hands” comedian, his delivery robust yet nonchalant, his stories consistently funny. He’s just a regular guy – the suburban yummy daddy who’s just wheeled himself out from under the car, wiped his greasy hands on his grey T-shirt and jeans, and sauntered on stage to do a set. He has a beard so reliable you’d let it babysit your child.
So where’s the tension? Well, much like Sarah Silverman’s “girl next door who says shocking things” schtick, Delaney is unexpectedly candid and explicit. Tonight, much of his material gravitates towards the sexual and the scatological, like a Judd Apatow character with chest hair. Anyone wanting political material – which wouldn’t be unreasonable given how much he berates Mitt Romney on Twitter – might be disappointed.
His outrageous statements and wild trains of thought that end in him oven-roasting a baby, say, or masturbating with a broken arm, are shocking not just in themselves, but because of the blasé delivery. The same goes for his own back story, which includes alcoholism, a near-death car crash and a psychiatric hospital. It all seems inconceivable from someone who reeks of security.
So the regular guy isn’t so regular after all – but now he’s on the other side, unembarrassable and skillful enough to turn his eye-popping biography into truly fantastic stand-up, as Richard Pryor did all those years ago. He relies on tightly honed anecdotes more than hard punchlines, and the audience is compelled throughout, except for an over-long tale of how he wet himself up to the age of 25.
Another dimension is added when he speaks about his family. His stories about the “majesty” of his wife giving birth and his toddler son pooing are typically colourful in detail, but they betray a big bear’s love for them both.
Nor are we omitted from the Delaney charm offensive. Having performed the same show earlier in the evening at the Bloomsbury Theatre (“a barn”), he describes this Soho gig as “like a cute little armpit; I can smell you all”. Which I think is his way of saying he likes us – a sentiment that is certainly reciprocated.
Jeff Fletcher found fame in 1990s
'At times I thought he was me'film
Review: One Direction, Fourmusic
Review: The World of Ice and Firebooks
Film More romcom than S&M
Review: The Imitation Gamefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Universities aren't working us hard enough, say undergraduates
- 2 Lego letter from the 1970s still offers a powerful message to parents 40 years later
- 3 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 4 Woman opens professional cuddling shop – gets 10,000 customers in first week
- 5 Grayson Perry: London needs affordable housing because 'rich people don't create culture'
Strictly Come Dancing results: Steve Backshall and Ola Jordan sent home
Iggy Azalea responds to Eminem rape lyrics: 'I'm bored of old men threatening young women'
Why are the words 'mongol', 'mongoloid' and 'mongy' still bandied about as insults?
Tom DeLonge compares streaming music to killing elephants
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking leaked footage of Lana Del Rey rape video
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
France 'blocks' Russian sailors from boarding a warship
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services