The Rob Delaney School of Manhood

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to score a free ticket to see Rob Delaney at the Scottish Rite Theater, aka, Austin’s freemason headquarters. Apparently, when they aren’t performing ritual sacrifices and inventing new satanic tax codes, they open their doors for comedy and rock shows.

On the outside, it looks like a church. On the inside, it looks like a place where Scooby-Doo would hang out with Phyllis Diller and the Harlem Globetrotters: dim lighting, red walls, brown wood paneling, ornately framed paintings of old white dudes whose eyes follow you as you walk down the hall. And globes. Lots of globes. Maybe they use these to plan out the New World Order to scale. When I went looking for the women’s restroom, I expected it to be a port-o-potty in the back alley. The first thing my friend said when we walked in was, “this place makes me want to break some shit.” Luckily, there was also a sign with an arrow that said BAR.

The actual theater had old wooden auditorium seats and a backdrop depicting some kind of ancient vista as seen through Greek columns, which I imagine the Austin Illuminati uses as a set when they videotape themselves shaving designs of pyramids and eyes into each other’s balls. As we sat down with our $7 rum and Cokes in between a nice Dell employee named Tab and a woman with the loudest and most awkward laugh since anyone ever, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

If you don’t know Rob Delaney, let me lay down some knowledge on you. I first fell in love with his writing when I read an essay he wrote for Vice.com, titled Problem Areas. It begins like this:

Hi everybody! How’s it going? If you’re a woman, I hope your answer is “I’m fucking starving!” Bikini season will be here before you can say “Jamochachino Surprise,” so you better be torturing yourself and focusing your meager intellect and out-of-control emotions on shedding those pounds, girlfriend!

He goes on to mock the ridiculous culture of beauty worship (perpetuated by both men and women), that routinely mind-fucks generation after generation of women into believing that their natural bodies are gross, that their instincts are untrustworthy, and that their value as human beings goes up as the numbers on their scale go down. He rattles off a list of just some of the things that are probably wrong with your body, including:

Saddle bags, upper-arm fat, cottage cheese thighs, midriff-bulge (aka F.U.P.A aka “gunt”), flat chest, asymmetrical breasts, butt-beard, bacne, pit-cheese, cankles, surprise tampon string cameos, eczema, ham spatula, ashy elbows, feet of any kind, hairy knuckles, beef knuckles, uncle’s knuckles, vaginal halitosis, bald spots, loaf latch, sideburns, flatbottom, creeping jimson weed, dowager’s hump, treasure trail, Pepperidge Farm, razor bumps, leakage, phantom dangle, and panty dandruff.

My favorite is Pepperidge Farm.

Of late, Delaney has become a pretty big deal on ye olde Twitter. He has more followers than God and is routinely hilarious in his political commentary, bathroom humor, and sexual non-innuendo. It’s non-inneundo because he doesn’t innuendo it at all. He just comes out and says whatever the fuck is on his mind, and I respect that.

Have I mentioned that he has the bone structure of Superman, crossed with Jon Hamm, crossed with a Kennedy?

My adult woman self wanted Mr. Delaney to come out like the James Bond of comedy and deliver a cleverly crafted satire of our current socio-political climate. My inner adolescent fantasized that somehow the house lights would go up, we would lock eyes, and, he would take me out for an innocent, but sexually-charged post-show ice cream cone and then we would become best friends, and then I would meet his wife and we would all three become best friends, and then they would invite me to a party in LA where I would meet Ryan Gosling and we would get married and Rob Delaney would be the maid of honor at my wedding.

What actually happened was more surprising and, in many ways, more satisfying. (Ok, maybe not more satisfying than sex with Ryan Gosling, but still.) He was just really real. He talked about the humiliation of being a bedwetter as a child, about his struggles with alcohol, and a drunk driving accident that landed him not only in casts on both arms, but also in jail. (Sounds like a laugh-a-minute, right? Well, it actually WAS.) He talked about the joys and fears of fatherhood, and about how insanely hard it is to maintain a healthy marriage. Perhaps the biggest laughs of the night came as he described how sometimes he wishes that he and his wife could forego the infuriating difficulty of talking and just beat the shit of each other.

I left that creepy-as-fuck Scottish Rite Theater having laughed my ass off and with a much clearer idea of what I want in a man: Honesty. Strength of character. Humor. Vulnerability. Willingness to admit and learn from mistakes. Passion for the adventure of life, even when it is painful, and raw, and messy.

I am sure if I knew Rob Delaney in real life, I would sometimes think he was an insufferable shithead. But that is what it means to be human. We are all insufferable shitheads sometimes. Thank you, Rob Delaney, for having the courage to joke about it.

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