One of the most sublime intersections between the worlds of comedy and politics in the 2012 presidential race took place at the Twitter account of Rob Delaney. The stand-up comedian and writer spent much of that year trolling the @ mentions of Republican nominee Mitt Romney.
Here are just a few examples:
"Take a day off. Why don't I swing by and we can flip through some Land's End catalogs and close a factory via Skype or something?"
"do u have a favorite blog about wheat thins?"
"Thousands of America's homeless suffer from schizophrenia. As president how would you help them? JK bro! Have a great weekend!"
In 2012, Delaney's expert Mitt-trolling and Dadaist tweets made his account a must-follow on Twitter. But, as soon as it was clear that Utah's favorite adopted son wouldn't become president, Delaney knew when to move on.
"I've had fun joshing around with you on this microblog, but in all honesty, I'm so glad you won't be our president," Delaney tweeted the day before Romney's loss, effectively closing the chapter on his Mitt obsession. It should be noted, however, that the next time Delaney found himself touring through Utah, in 2014, he made sure to beg a retweet from his old "pal" to get the word out.
When buzz of a third Romney presidential campaign started spreading earlier this year, the anticipation may have caused some fans' toes to curl. But, when asked in an e-mail interview with City Weekly how he felt about Romney's January announcement that he wouldn't make a 2016 run, Delaney showed no pangs of nostalgia.
"I don't care," he said. "It was fun to antagonize him, but there will always be clowns in politics. It's like Whac-a-Mole."
Trying to pin down exactly what makes Rob Delaney one of comedy's most gigantic voices can be a bit like Whac-a-Mole, too: Whatever the reason, it's not the same one for long.
No, Utah's progressives won't find the Romney jokes they thirst for when Delaney comes to town. His attention is instead fixed on new standup material and on his series that recently debuted in the U.K. Both are projects that Delaney says he does best in a collaborative environment. You can lob unrequited zingers at a former presidential candidate for only so long, after all.
Delaney recently wrote at length about what it was like to work with co-creator and co-star Sharon Horgan when they began conceiving Catastrophe, which premiered on BBC Channel 4 in January. Delaney and Horgan play an American man and an Irish woman who navigate an unexpected pregnancy while living in London.
Writing the series with a partner was liberating for Delaney, who enjoyed taking a break from the solitary experience of writing his acclaimed 2013 memoir Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.
"When you work with a good partner or partners, the work you do isn't twice as good, it's exponentially better," Delaney wrote recently for Britain's Independent. "In 2012, when I was writing a book (by myself: yuck) I would hear from my editor that something was funny—or worse, not funny—about once a month. Insufficient! As a man who can charitably be described as a needy clown, banging away at a typewriter in a dusty orphanage basement is no way to live."
Catastrophe is now airing to favorable reviews across the Atlantic, and Delaney says he's happy to see his humor finding a home with British audiences. "I'm happy, but not surprised," he said. "I've watched so many British comedies, and British audiences have watched so many American shows—lots of cross-pollination these days." American audiences will soon get a chance to watch Catastrophe online; the series was recently picked up by Amazon.
Delaney's breakthroughs into other media haven't yet torn him away from standup. He told City Weekly that he hopes to release a second standup special after he finishes writing Catastrophe's second season.
While writing a show and performing on stage are two different experiences, Delaney says he feels a similar collaborative spark when he's in front of an audience. "Standup is collaborative because the audience is a huge, indispensable part of it," he said. "I guess when you're doing standup, you're driving the bus. When co-writing a show, you're both driving and navigating. They're both incredibly fun."
His new standup tour, Meat, deals with many of the same themes he explored in his 2012 one-hour special Live at the Bowery Ballroom, a set that was at once raunchy and sweet as it weaved through the joys of fatherhood and a healthy obsession with bodily fluids.
"I'm talking about being a dad and a husband, and how angry I am at God," Delaney said. "Also, sex and butts—male or female."