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Friday, May 24, 2024

Rob Delaney is funny online and offline

Rob Delaney is the shaggy overlord of the Twitter-sphere, having amassed over 1.14 million followers since 2009 (as of press time) and become the first comedian to be named “Funniest Person on Twitter” by Comedy Central. So why were there empty seats in the Barrymore Theatre Saturday night during his stand-up show?

For shame, you ungrateful peasants. If you think Delaney is witty in 140 characters or less, one hour and fifteen minutes of experiencing the ruggedly handsome—yeah, I said it—gloriously bearded oddball in person is a gross, crude and ridiculous delight.

While other modern funnymen and women with active online presences often struggle to translate social media-dependent gags to a live audience, most of the absurd breed of quips Delaney is known for on the Internet hit their mark during the Madison leg of his “Meat” tour—and on the rare occasion they didn’t, the cockamamie, masturbation-filled lead ups to the puns were plenty satisfying.

Musings about the 38-year-old’s family life dominated his set, like how rad he thinks it is for women to birth other humans out of small holes between their legs, the majesty and mystery of the sports bra (cue jerking-off reference) or that one time when his man bits were mangled by his two-year-old son’s claw-like fingernails when they were showering together (no jerking-off reference there, thankfully).

Delaney delivered his jokes in a way that made it difficult to tell whether he was acting in the guise of his clueless #CoolDad #420No Twitter persona who’s prone to over-sharing, or if he was genuinely (and happily) disclosing all of his most private, bodily function-filled moments to the intimate Barrymore crowd. Either way, the crowd laugh off his purely disgusting remarks as if to say, “oh, you!” and he relished in it.

The bushy, swamp hole-ish state of his nether regions and unabashed honesty about unplanned bodily functions were reoccurring motifs throughout his set. At one point during the show, Delaney told the tale of a legendary, 22-year-old pair of scarlet boxers that had completely faded to a charming shade of salmon except for the crotch, which recently tore to reveal some of the original, bright-red threads. Rob’s adored wife, Leah, thought the tear—surrounded in all of the hairy, mucky glory of his genitalia—was actually Rob “bleeding out of his vagina.”

Delaney’s Madison show thankfully featured fresh material that wasn’t used in his Netflix special. Not that the special bombed—it did quite the opposite—but because of the boredom and disappointment that results when stand-up comedians rely on previously tested, widely broadcasted material for smaller shows on their tours (I’m looking at you Nick Offerman).

Delaney’s recent move to London to work on his new sitcom, “Catastrophe,” provided him with plenty of material to joke about. A story about him shamelessly vomiting chocolate and powdery American cheese out of his car directly in front of a group of quiet, elderly English was especially graphic; another one about him spilling a 211 F cup of peppermint tea on his penis and then jamming his seared member into a cup of water—kind of like a preteen’s flawed notion of how sex works—as Leah walked into the room was at once horrifying and endearing.

The affable way he described some of these mega-personal moments made me wonder what Delaney is really like off the stage and offline. It’s a shame so many Madisonians couldn’t experience his comedy in the flesh when the opportunity was present.    

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