When the cover of a book hails the author as the “Funniest Person on Twitter”, one might expect that the content of the book would be concise and funny. One might also expect, as I did, that the subject matter be as frivolous as any comedians’ Twitter offerings. However Rob Delaney, released from his 140-character constraints, has written a meaningful collection of heart wrenchingly true tales exuding self-effacing whimsy and smart-guy charm with Mother. Wife. Sister. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.
As in his Twitter feed, Rob Delaney pulls no punches on the page; he’s as unafraid to detail the funny circumstances that result from his near quarter-century of bed wetting as he is to talk candidly of his dangerous bout with alcoholism. Although each section is headed by a selection of “the best of” his Twitter, from the very beginning there’s a sense that a more serious story is being told through the collection, and Delaney doesn’t disappoint in that regard. His stories about flipping boats, unbelievably jumping off the Manhattan Bridge, and exploring an abandoned mental hospital move quickly and are just the precursor to a larger exploration of his personality. And when he veers into sentimental territory, he remains crass, which makes him all the more lovable: he opens a story about how a girl broke his heart with an extensive explanation of why he is not “a butt fucker.”
Delaney also toes the line between defensive and humble transparency, owning his responsibility while still telling the reader “fuck you.” There are plenty of books by male comedians about being drunk and stupid and depressed and getting out of the hole they dug for themselves, but this book feels like you are reading the account told by a grown up who actually learned something about himself worthy enough to share in book form.
The only thing absolutely wrong with Delaney’s first book is that just as we get to the meat of the man who decided to do comedy, it switches gears and starts to wrap up with shorter stories about love and one measly essay about being a father. As packed with stories as it is, it’s too short – it feels like he left a lot on the table. But as he leaves me wanting more, I can appreciate that his ability to keep it brief and to the point is his talent.
Of course you can follow him for free (and you should), but if you enjoy reading the stories that make the funny man, buy/borrow/ask for your birthday this book. I only hope that Delaney’s first book becomes as popular as his Twitter so that he offers up a second book of stories very soon.
Julia Wiedeman is a writer, performer, and storyteller based in New York City. She hosts Happy Hour Story Hour at UCB East every Monday.