If anyone has mastered the 140-character universe that is Twitter, it’s comedian Rob Delaney. Since opening his Twitter account four years ago, Delaney has amassed nearly a million followers (without being world-famous, mind you). As his new book, Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage, hits shelves, the affable and hairy humorist talks social , and everything in between. By which we mean Greenland.
MADE MAN: You have close to a million followers on Twitter. First of all: congratulations. Second of all: how?
ROB DELANEY: The honest answer is a guy in England named Graham Linehan, who made the show The IT Crowd, which is a really great show. He found me before anybody, and he made every British comedian follow me. And I swear to God that started the groundswell. So credit where credit’s due.
It’s funnier to say, like, “This traffic’s so bad, I’m going to eat my own foot and then your foot and lots of feet,” than it is to say, “This traffic is bad [unsmiley face].” Nobody cares. So eat feet.
MM: So, get in good with
RD: Get in with Graham Linehan specifically. And if you’ve missed that window, which you probably have, there’s sort of no hope for you.
MM: That ruins our next question, but we’ll ask it anyway: got any other
RD: Be . And what funny is, is usually specific, and also honest. If not honest in facts, honest in feelings. Like, how does something make you feel? So feel it in your guts and then translate it—not necessarily through factual data, but, like, “It made me so angry, I wanted to…” and then hyperbole. So it’s funnier to say, like, “This traffic’s so bad, I’m going to eat my own foot and then your foot and lots of feet,” than it is to say, “This traffic is bad [unsmiley face].” Nobody cares. So eat feet.
MM: Seems like you really go all the way with your tweets. Is that another rule of comedy—don’t hold back?
RD: Yeah. And with Twitter, you’ve only got 140 characters, so don’t waste people’s time being like, “Let’s set the mood.” You gotta go boom.
MM: You’re also a successful comedian. How long have you been doing stand-up, and what would be your
RD: I’ve been doing stand-up for about 10 years, and my advice is you just have to do it constantly. You won’t be good at it in the beginning.
MM: How long will they suck at it?
RD: It depends. A few months ago I remember bombing terribly and going into the of a club and telling myself, “Don’t cry in front of the chef.” Like, it just is gonna happen. And you have to keep going. You have to ask, “Why did I bomb?” You have to dissect it and figure it out and then immediately get on stage again.
“Does the beard make me funnier? Probably.”
MM: Sounds tough.
RD: Yeah, it’s very difficult. So you only do it if you have to. Like, if I didn’t do it, I totally would—I’m not kidding—die. Like, I could not tweet, and I’d be sad, but if I couldn’t do stand-up, then I wouldn’t just eat my feet, I’d eat the whole thing. And then I would bleed to .
MM: Is the comedy world changing? Back in the day, it was Jerry Seinfeld in a nightclub. Now there are all these alternative forms.
RD: Funny’s funny. So if you do a joke in a cool neighborhood in Portland and people are like [haughty laugh], but they don’t laugh in Topeka, Kansas, your joke wasn’t funny. If it’s funny in both places, then it’s funny. That’s why the coolest dude appreciates Seinfeld, because he’s funny. Or the uptight guy appreciates Maria Bamford, because she’s funny.
MM: That makes sense.
RD: And you might be inclined to say that they belong to a certain world—no, I reject that. Emphatically. They’re funny. So funny’s funny. has changed a little bit of the mechanics but not the of it, which is: is it funny? Would you laugh at it? Would, potentially, your grandparent laugh at it? Would a guy from a totally different background laugh at it? Then it’s funny.
MM: Do you remember the first joke you ever told?
RD: Unfortunately, yes. It was 10 years ago at an open mic. And you know how on a globe or a map, all the countries have their names in English, but for some reason, Greenland has its, like, Greenland-ish language under it, which is like “Kali Nunat” or something? So my first joke, literally, was me being like, “Hey, so you know how you’re looking at a globe?” And the audience was already like, “No!” And I was like, “Yeah, well then, why is Greenland written in two languages?” And the audience was like, “Go to hell!” And I was like, “You’re right, I should quit.” And then I didn’t. I should have. Oh my god, I can’t believe I just told you that!