Rob Delaney interview: “Lubricate the gears of life’s horror with the milk of human kindness”

Time Out learns some invaluable life lessons from comedy’s Twitter god

Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney Photograph:Richard Saker/Rex/REX USA

Stand-up comic and superstar tweeter Rob Delaney (@robdelaney has more than 1 million followers, and Comedy Central named him the “Funniest Person on Twitter”) riffs about tough dumps and jacking it, but don’t write him off as a dirty-minded dude.

In conversation he drops easy references to Vonnegut and Shakespeare—he has a B.F.A. from NYU—and he has dealt with heavy stuff like alcoholism and “pretty acute mental-health issues,” which he chronicled in last year’s book Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. Before the Angeleno hits town for six shows at Carolines, he offered up these wise words. Heed them, people.

1. Masturbate. At least twice a week.

“I’m 37 and I have kids, so I don’t need to have sex with people. I’ve bred. But even if you have kids, you still have to use your junk or it’ll turn sort of an ugly beige—not like skin, but real rotten. And it’ll fall off. So masturbate, even if you don’t want to.”

2. Be nice—yes, even in New York.

“We’re all gonna die. It may be in an earthquake, or some scaffolding might collapse and we’ll get beheaded on our walk to work. It’ll likely be terrible. Why not lubricate the gears of life’s horror with the milk of human kindness? Go take the ferry to Staten Island, eat at a diner and pay for someone else’s breakfast two stools down from you without telling them.”

3. Don’t sleep with dummies.

“John Waters said that if you go back with somebody to their apartment and they don’t have books, you shouldn’t fuck them. I really agree with that. Reading makes me happy. When the world tries to hurt me—and it does every day—I can retreat to the little fantasy world in my head. Right now I’m reading The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut.”

4. Working out is a good substitute for booze.

“I’ve been sober for 12 years, but I still have to get high! So I exercise to get the endorphins and runner’s high. If you’re a fat idiot, exercising will suck for, like, two weeks. But keep it up and then you’ll feel better.”

5. Note to dog owners: It’s just a fucking dog.

“Pets are wonderful and amazing, and I love animals. But they’re just not kids. You have to learn that and accept it. I have a lot to say about people who are like, ‘My pet is my kid.’ No! Pets don’t even want to be your kid. A dog is like, ‘I want to be a dog. Let me go eat another dog’s butt and play in dirt. I don’t want to wear a goddamned sweater-vest!’ ”

6. Food equals sex.

“If you cook for somebody, your chances of getting laid go up so high, especially if you’re a man. Women are so nice. If you cook for them, they’re gonna be like, ‘What? You did a marginally nice thing that’s part of the survival triangle that everybody should know how to do but nobody does because men are garbage? Holy mackerel, I better have sex with you right away!’ ”

7. You can’t wish away a problem.

“You can accept it and work through it. My wife and I have been together for ten years. This morning we had a little tiff. It’s my fault, so I’m not going to sulk—I’m going to go fix it and it’ll work out.”

8. Everyone should run the New York City Marathon—if only for the chance of bedding clergywomen.

“I did it in 2006. Dude, it is so fun. There [are] metal bands playing in Brooklyn along the course and hip-hop in the Bronx. I ran alongside nuns. I yelled, ‘Yay, nuns!’ They were excited. They gave me their hotel key card.”

9. Use social media; don’t let it use you.

“Social media is not real. It’s a means to an end. You can use the mud to help connect things and build things, but you can also drown in it, like quicksand. I have two beautiful children. When I’m wasting time looking at my phone, that’s disgusting. Shame on me.”

10. Be a failure.

“In 2008, I made a pilot for TBS. It didn’t get picked up. In 2011, I made one for Comedy Central. It didn’t get picked up. That’s great! [It’s like] Abraham Lincoln. He had failed businesses and careers and lots of setbacks before he became a President who played a large role in ending a thing I like to call ‘slavery.’ ”

Rob Delaney performs at Carolines on Broadway June 19–22.