Comic Rob Delaney on Porn, Sobriety, Twitter, and Feminism

Comic and Twitter phenom Rob Delaney talks about sobriety, why he is a feminist, naked ladies, honesty, and the finer points of his social network of choice.

So, uh, how did you get into comedy?

I’ve been performing, singing, and acting since I was a kid in Boston. Later, I went to NYU for acting. I always enjoyed comedy, then saw the Upright Citizens Brigade do a show when I was in college. That changed what I wanted to do with my life.

Were you performing stand-up before the fateful DUI you mention in that Vice article?

No. I started after I got sober. I did my first stand up roughly eight years ago, and the accident was nine years ago. I was very interested in improv and had signed up for classes at UCB, but never took them.

I guess what’s interesting to me about that is that good comedy is maybe one of the most sobering things I can think of. I grew up obsessively watching A&E’s Evening at the Improv, and what eventually struck me is that the very best comics are always brutally honest about themselves and their surroundings.

Yep. Carlin, Pryor, Cosby … honesty is the main ingredient. I mean, you must be funny, but certainly the funniest stuff will always be the most honest. No secret there.

So did the floodgates sort of open up for you once you got sober?

I did feel that I had a “second chance,” so to speak, so I did want to do exactly what I’d always wanted to do, rather than some bullshit.

You’re a pretty big deal on Twitter. How important has Twitter been to you professionally?

Very important. It’s gotten me jobs, it helps me sell tickets on the road, it’s improved my writing and it’s introduced me to great people in real life. It’s fair to call me a massive fan of Twitter.

Seems like a fertile place to test bits, too.

“Honestly, since Twitter, I look at less porn. That should tell you something about the addictive nature of that website.”

Yes. It’s the ultimate online writers room/workshop.

My wife still thinks Twitter is silly, and I’m always trying to explain to her the many levels of its greatness: networking, exposure to tailored info, how it makes you a better editor …

The funny thing is, you’re both correct. It is fundamentally silly. But it makes you a better joke writer, introduces your stuff to the world, and is like a Google that shows you things you actually want to see.

It’s also telling that some of the biggest draws on Twitter are comics and very funny people.

I’m biased, but I’m of the opinion that the best thing you can see on Twitter is a compact joke that doesn’t require you to link to something or show a picture. It’s just, “Boom, here’s a funny joke you can immediately enjoy.” There’s nothing I’d rather see than a joke in that little 140-character box.

How much has it changed the way you approach your profession? Is there a dramatic difference now as opposed to pre-Twit?

It allows me to be funny for people whether I’m on TV or not that day, or in their city or not at that moment, or playing on a CD in their car. I can just get my material out, literally globally, by hitting “Tweet.” It’s pretty insane.

Just based on the activity in my small office, I think it’s radically changed the way we are exposed to comedy.

Plus it shows networks, publishers, producers, or “Hollywood” or whatever that I’m being funny day in and day out, whether I’m on their show or not. So professionally, for a joke writer, it lets people know you have a fertile mind and a work ethic. I hope that doesn’t sound like I’m some calculating weirdo, but I naturally wind up thinking about this stuff a lot. Really, I just write jokes because it makes me genuinely happy to do so. That Twitter came into existence is just a wonderful coincidence.

Does it come with added pressure? Are there days when you aren’t on and you worry you’ll disappoint your swelling audience?

Not really. I’m desensitized to what people say to me in response to jokes. That’s one benefit of coming of age with the Internet: I have people say such horrible things to me every day that it honestly no longer registers. So I don’t “trust” Twitter feedback, [but] I’m gratified when people retweet a joke a bunch. That’s the only feedback that I care about, simply because it expands my audience.

I really like how in your stand-up you do this thing where, for a minute, you come across as sort of stereotypical horny man, but steadily broaden out to show that you are a more egalitarian horny man.

Thank you for saying that! That’s really what I’m trying to do. I may sound like the world’s biggest asshole, but I do consider myself a feminist. Women and men are just savaged by ads and media and Hollywood to the point of actual insanity and I try to combat that in my little way.

People get so sensitive and forget that sex is a part of who we are both as animals and sentient creatures.

Exactly. I assure you, my wife, and all the people of the earth that I’m still a pulsing bundle of testosterone and I absolutely embody all the gross, silly clichés of stupid, horny, selfish, stereotypically “male” behavior—but I think that’s OK if there’s an awareness and at least a marginal effort to work through it in a way that’s not destructive to others or myself.

Clearly there’s still work to be done, though. For instance—and I think this happens in your Garagehole clip—when you’re telling jokes about sucking cock, everyone is cracking up. As soon as you mention eating pussy, the laughter thins.

Funny, many women approached me after that set and said thank you. I will continue to talk about eating pussy and the necessity of it as a political act. That’s a joke, sort of, but I really, really want to champion women with my comedy. Sexism and misogyny still run rampant in our world and in our culture and it will be the death of us if we don’t seek to counter it in our own lives. So I do focus on women a bit more in my comedy, because I think that destructive sexism is sort of the final frontier in prejudice. It would seem that racism and homophobia are closer to extinction than is sexism.

I agree, and I think all of those things are affected by the shame people feel about their sexuality. Curing them of that seems to be key.

That sounds like a good idea to me. I mean we all wrestle with craving this, and having an aversion to that, and it’s OK, we’re human. As an exercise: I see a woman jogging in spandex. She has an amazing butt that I want to lie down and wiggle on. It’s more than OK that I think that, but it would be very much not OK if I actually did that. She knows that and I know that and we know that we both know that.

So, not to get too silly, but do you see what you’re doing as a healing art?

I see myself as trying to, number one, be funny. A close number two, or perhaps tied with number one, is trying to be honest. I am best at being honest about myself and my own life—if that makes others laugh and even flirt with a modicum of actual happiness, then I am happy and glad I get to do what I do.

I’ve always looked at the best comics as our equivalent of philosophers. They are some of the last people in the media who are interested in telling the truth.

Well, for comedy to work, it has to be honest. It literally won’t prompt the organic physical laugh response if people don’t go, “Yeah, I identify with that!” Like, no one’s going to laugh at a Maxim or Cosmopolitan magazine—there is nothing honest in there. There may be honesty in some Cosmo articles, I don’t know, but by and large they’re selling women an image that is ridiculous and impossible (and, to me, not at all attractive).

Women really get a raw deal, from the media especially. But not only is the media ideal of a “hot” woman rather unhealthy and unrealistic, it’s also kind of icky.

It’s so totally fucked and wrong. There isn’t one hot body type, there’s a bunch. Of course you need to be healthy and fit and all, but the parameters that modern media deem acceptable for a woman’s body to fit in are tragic and dangerous.

“No one’s going to laugh at a Maxim or Cosmopolitan magazine—there is nothing honest in there. There may be honesty in some Cosmo articles, I don’t know, but by and large they’re selling women an image that is ridiculous and impossible.”

And it’s grossly condescending when the media deigns to laud curvy women.

Yeah, that’s awful. Straight up.

If we can go back to that Vice article for a sec, I think that dispelling the myth that you have to be fucked up to make good art is an important thing for young artists especially to hear. As an editor I’ve had to cringe through way too many manuscripts by people who think that being dead drunk will make them Bukowski.

Kids should read Henry Miller’s Rosy Crucifixion trilogy instead of Bukowski. But yes, the myth of the tortured artist is one I’d like to help do my part to minimize or at least present an attractive alternative to. I mean, look at me. I’m a weirdo, and I have a lot of fun doing what I do. It so happens I don’t drink or do drugs.

You had a pretty awesome tweet the other day about how you’d rather your wife check your browser history than see your McDonald’s receipts. Do you look at a lot of porn online?

I do look at porn online. I probably look at a few minutes of it most days. I mean, if I have the means to look at naked women, I’m going to do it. I do lament the fact that it must damage our imaginations, though. I mean, it just used to be more difficult to summon images of naked people and people having sex. Frankly, that was probably a good thing.

With a magazine, you know the spreads you like and you work with them. The Internet is relentless.

The few magazines I had as a kid were like treasures to be pored over and studied. I mean really, seeing a naked woman should be like a bomb in the middle of your day that you freak out about and are like, “OH MY GOD, I SOMEHOW SAW A NAKED WOMAN! THANK YOU, JESUS!” But now you can just lift the blinds of the Internet and there they are, dancing. Honestly, since Twitter, I look at less porn. That should tell you something about the addictive nature of that website.

Does your wife follow your tweets?

She’s not on Twitter, but she checks them out most days, I think.

So I take it she is comfortable with your enlightened brand of maleness?

She is. She’s hilarious, by the way, so any time I make her laugh I’m very happy.

Yes, making wives laugh is the crucible. It means they can’t hate you.

Ha! I don’t know about that.

Well, it makes it harder at least.

Humor does help lubricate the gears of the marriage machine for sure.

It seems odd to me that so many people are now uninterested in marriage—that’s it’s just not very cool anymore.

I don’t proselytize, but I love being married. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also—by a wide margin—the most rewarding. Maybe it’s not right for everyone. In fact, I’m sure it’s not, but for me, it is.

Last question: who was on your cat calendar this morning?

A super-cute little white kitten from Massachusetts named Morgan.

Awwwww.

♦◊♦

 

You can follow Rob Delaney’s tweets @robdelaney. Josh Tyson is @josh_tyson.

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Comments

  1. Tom Matlack says:

    Wow, what a *great* article. Specially like this:

    “I will continue to talk about eating pussy and the necessity of it as a political act. That’s a joke, sort of, but I really, really want to champion women with my comedy. Sexism and misogyny still run rampant in our world and in our culture and it will be the death of us if we don’t seek to counter it in our own lives. So I do focus on women a bit more in my comedy, because I think that destructive sexism is sort of the final frontier in prejudice. It would seem that racism and homophobia are closer to extinction than is sexism.”

    • Yeah, I watched the clip and his vociferous and detailed entthuasiasm for eating pussy… made my heart skip a beat.

      Hey, Rob, if things don’t work out with Mrs. Rob… call me. I’ll invite you to lunch at the Y.

      ;-)

  2. Incredibly talented comic and writer – and always appreciate you standing up for women the way you do Rob. X Julie

  3. Your/you’re tainted it for me.

  4. You are such a funny and inspiring man, Rob. Please never stop.

  5. I’m NOT a feminist, because I believe in equality and human rights.

    I think feminist hating is an honorable and viable political act.

    What’s Wrong and What Right with Contemporary Feminism?
    By Christina Hoff Sommers.

    A worthy read for anyone who cares about justice and equality.

    http://www.aei.org/docLib/20090108_ContemporaryFeminism.pdf

    “gender feminists tend to see conventional masculinity as a pathology and the source of much of what is wrong in the world”

    • Blah blah blah blah blah… I hate feminists… blah blah blah blah blah …. women suck…. blah blah blah….

    • SecondBeach says:

      Except that this comic can reconcile masculinity with the better parts of feminism.

    • Curtis Penfold says:

      You’re attacking a straw man, Denis.

      Your take this very extreme view of feminism and attribute it with all of feminism. It’s as ridiculous as saying the following about these other ideologies:

      1) Republicans hate women.

      2) Democrats hate America.

      3) Green activists are O.K. with eco-terrorism.

      4) Muslims are terrorists.

      5) Christians hate gay people

      6) Atheists think religion should be illegal.

      Do you see how ridiculous you sound, Dennis?

  6. I started following Rob after Will Arnett mentioned him in a tweet. He is now, hands-down, my favorite thing about Twitter.

  7. Could you please stop reloading this page and run ads while I’m reading? It’s very annoying.
    Next time I visit I probably just copy & paste the artice and scurry the f out of here immediately.

    Oh, it was great. I just tweeted it. Bye.

    • Could not agree more John – about the constant reloading of the website! Good Men Project – please stop this – I love your website but this annoying habit it has makes me want to stop visiting.

  8. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    I think victim feminism is a real problem. It keeps women down and is dangerous to both women and men. I do support a robust feminism that promotes women’s strengths. I think that generally the stuff about misogyny is overblown. It’s important to have justice and salary parity, but the culture war stuff just keeps a false feminism going for the benefit of some women and men, mostly academics.

    Very onboard with eating pussy BTW.

    One of the drawbacks of this site is that articles frequently seem to verge on being written for sort of victim feminist approval. I think the “good” man business almost falls into this, and sometimes partakes of a “bad” man stereotype.

    • Oh, I’m so glad you as a man can explain what good feminism and bad feminism is…

      Precisely like how white people have the right to say what is real racism or not real racism…

      • When feminism stops claiming to the Revealed Word on gender issues, when it stops claiming to be the Solution For Men and gender expectations, then maybe your tired little dismissal will have some merit. Until then, you just make an idiot of yourself repeating it.

        Because if feminism doesn’t include men, as full members who can comment on it and shape it as much as women can, then it’s irrelevant to us. And if it’s irrelevant to us, why should we take it or its concerns or its claims seriously?

        • Agreed.

          I seriously don’t know why anybody takes feminism seriously anymore anyway?! Have you read anything about feminism? Seriously…

          • Poester99 says:

            He’s pretty funny.

            It’s obvious that politics are not very important to him, which is fine.

            Calling himself a feminist is a almost like a pickup line, and part of his act, even though he is married.
            He’s much more of an egalitarian than a feminist, which is also mentioned in the article.

      • typhonblue says:

        So… let me get this straight.

        Feminism is what men need but they have no right to discuss its virtues and vices.

        Sounds very… orwellian.

      • “Oh, I’m so glad you as a man can explain what good feminism and bad feminism is…
        Precisely like how white people have the right to say what is real racism or not real racism…”

        And for those who argue about feminism being the same as egalitarian, case in point. Only females can define feminism? And seriously? comparing gender equality rights to racial rights???

        Cmon egalfeminists, where are you to speak out against that comment?
        I guess I am a privileged male and need to shutup about these matters of course because only women know what feminism is and what are beneficial and harmful actions of feminism. To use your trick, I guess it’d be like white people seeing how harmful having slaves would be? Nah, white people could never spot that harm. *Shakes fist at white men*
        /sarcasm….

  9. I take it back, the article isn’t that great and Rob is pretty much the feminist’s prison bitch.
    I have reasons to suspect him of being a member of Scientology too. And this website ‘sucks ass’.

  10. This dude is whack. He’s totally trying to cop Louis CK’s delivery, style, and timing. Too bad he didn’t include the humor.

  11. zjsimon says:

    I like no BS feminist men more than I distrust people who don’t drink, so I’ll look at his tweets I guess ;p

  12. Why is “feminism unnecessary” and in how far is “being equalitarian” different to being feminism?
    Feminism is reaction to a society where women still have fewer options in many areas than men – and not nearly as much access to power as men. Denying feminism is necessary is denying that these problems exist. And yes, men do suffer too, but under the same old fashioned conceptions of male and female…if you have any awareness of how restricting the current male roles are, you do so mostly thank to feminism which has questioned gender roles for decades.

    • Denying feminism is necessary is denying that these problems exist.
      No it isn’t and that’s a kinda the problem. Trying to tie feminism into the problems and acting like feminism is some integral necessity in which the problem cannot possibly be talked about or solved without it is an illusion.

      if you have any awareness of how restricting the current male roles are, you do so mostly thank to feminism which has questioned gender roles for decades.
      As long as you bear in mind that the past work of feminism doesn’t somehow grant it some sort of special status where it is beyond question or reproach from the outside.

  13. Everyone thinks this is so simple…. we live in a big world… there is a lot of messed up stuff happening. Sure… this guy is being “honest”. He’s funny. Sounds like he is open to learning some things. He’s getting the word out about pussy….. oh boy…. seems like if a funny guy talks… people listen eh? Anyhow…….he does claim some of the more important characteristics of a man trying to be a feminist. Woo hoo! Yay! and Cool! Sincerely…. and….. sex trafficking and children being targeted is actually happening in this world in this day and age…. and while a lot of us may not be directly affected by it… there are a lot of us “humans” that are creating an ugly world for a lot of people – women and girls in particular… but also men and boys… and sure… violence begets violence and perpetrators are most likely victims… but some of the “innocent” porn out there…. not so innocent… and where do we draw the lines… and if people are suffering “some place else”…. well? Do we hear them? Or do we choose not to? I’ve got a really amazing imagination… so I really don’t need porn… never did… I guess I’m lucky like that…. Sure…. we are sexual beasts…. I imagine most of us reading this are adults. Mature? Well that’s another question. Do we live in a misogynist reality still? Yes. Is feminism divisive? I don’t think so. And yet… yeah… it might seem like cause we live in a messed up culture where most people are actually telling themselves little lies just in order to get out of bed in the morning…. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=387033248098671&set=a.368654333269896.1073741827.368646556604007&type=1&theater

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Matlack over at The Good Men Project did a great interview with comic Rob Delaney. Even though I know it’s a low bar, I’m always so tickled when men identify as [...]

  2. [...] stumbled across Rob Delaney through an interview he gave to The Good Men Project.  The attitude toward Delaney and his “popularity” in [...]

  3. [...] and also media, the Internet, books, theater, dicks, hemorrhoids, food, domestic violence, comedy, education, working out, fatherhood, women, prison reform, OCD, depression, other really serious [...]

  4. [...] for much of history it never really needed a definition. There’s nothing I’d rather see than a joke in that little 140-character box. I think the overall pattern is best described as a coincidence and not a pattern of large-scale [...]

  5. [...] down to A Few Good Words, and Twitter allows only thoughts equal to or less than 140-characters. As comedian Rob Delaney told The Good Men Project: I’m biased, but I’m of the opinion that the best thing you can see on Twitter is a [...]

  6. [...] to A Few Good Words, and Twitter allows usually thoughts equal to or reduction than 140-characters. As comedian Rob Delaney told The Good Men Project: I’m biased, though I’m of a opinion that a best thing we can see on Twitter is a [...]

  7. [...] -Rob Delaney (via fleish) [...]

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