Comedian Rob Delaney talks love, life, and slightly gross bodily functions
Your process for writing Catastrophe is apparently very precise, down to the prepositions – can you tell us about that?
One theory I would entertain is that [co-writer] Sharon [Horgan] and I are despots and we don’t want anyone to say anything that didn’t come out of our silly little brains. Or because we are performers and we write out loud. We like the music of language, so we are pretty specific. If you look at the science of linguistics, you learn that words are the flimsy outfit of the emotions behind it, so sometimes real clues can slip out in the ‘ums’ and the 'ahs'.
A delight in the gross side of being human comes across in the series. Where does that come from?
We’re born with bodies and we die with them, everything in between – money, clothes – that’s just smoke, so I think that ‘gross-out humour’ is important – when our bodies betray us, the flush of feelings that you have can be shorthand for our fears. If you’re like, [does impression of stomach rumbling], that was anxiety about my boss. I think body embarrassment is the tip of iceberg. You might think that we’re talking about a fart, but in fact it’s much more.
What’s it like seeing big ads of yourself on the underground?
I get sweaty and nervous and I walk in the opposite direction. I’m glad they’re there, but it’s jarring – I have an extreme physical reaction when I see them.
In London, you better have umbrellas in reserve
Who would play you in a film of your life?
Obviously I think it’s Clive Owen. Just kidding. Zawe Ashton would do a good job playing me.
You moved to London just over a year ago. What do you miss most about the US?
The ease with which you can get an amazing burrito or a taco in Los Angeles. I don’t know if I own an umbrella when I live in Los Angeles. You’d be like, do you own an umbrella? I’d be like, I don’t know! In London, you better have umbrellas in reserve.
Who’s going to be the next president?
Hillary Clinton. It’s good in that she’ll further entrench Obamacare, the US’s horrible approximation of the NHS. In another sense, it will be totally status quo – corporations will continue to bloat cancerously unchecked, extrajudicial murder through drones and lots of terrible things will continue to happen. Will a couple of good things happen that wouldn’t happen if a Republican got elected? Yes – so it’s the lesser of two evils.
If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself?
Wear a condom that time you go to Copenhagen. Just kidding. All the sh*tty mistakes I made got me to here. But maybe if I could go back to a hungover me years before I quit drinking – I’ve been sober for 13 years – and say, “You know your fears about where your drinking’s going to lead? They’re super-justified”, and put the plug in the jug earlier. Or maybe not, because it’s all worked out.
Who or what makes you laugh and why?
Sharon Horgan makes me laugh dependably and forever. Michaela Coel from this new show Chewing Gum. My two- and four-year-olds’ impressions of Alan Partridge make me laugh until I p*ss [does impression of impression, which is pretty funny]. Obviously Steve Coogan in anything he does is amazing, but – Steve, if you’re reading this, my kids are funnier.
Who’d be your dream guests at a dinner party?
Stevie Wonder. It would be easy to say human beings are not that great, right? But then you hear his music and you think, “Huh, there’s some pretty good stuff.” Gautama Buddha, because he helps us not to identify as us, and it would be fun to learn how to evaporate from him. Arundhati Roy, because ‘Hello! I get that there are problems in the world, good for you, but write another goddamn book!’ I’d just lock her in the basement and say, “Write another book.” The God Of Small Things is amazing. Margaret Atwood, too.
What’s the best thing about living in London?
I’m blown away by the NHS. You go to the doctor, they help you with your body, you go home and you don’t get a bill. My wife had two babies in the US, but the whole process of having a baby here is much more human and humane.
All the sh*tty mistakes I made got me to here
What’s the secret to a successful marriage?
Be kind. Work hard. Relax. You can’t be right all the time. I’ve been having a bit of a growth spurt recently as a husband which is like: put down your weapons and relax. Zip it and do some nice things.
Any first date advice?
Take your friggin’ Oyster card and go on the Thames Clipper. Go up on Parliament Hill. See if you can bring each other to orgasm in the bushes in the Hampstead Heath extension. Hampstead Heath – we all have been there. Hampstead Heath extension, go f*ck in the woods. And tell the truth. If you like somebody, tell them.
Series 2 of Catastrophe starts on 27 October, Channel 4