Rob Delaney is currently on a short stand up tour before returning to his new home in the UK. We spoke over the phone on Friday, February 20. A few minutes before we talked he tweeted this:
I can’t believe Harris Wittels is gone. Devastating. I feel damaged.
— rob delaney (@robdelaney) February 20, 2015
So we talked about the very funny Harris Wittels.
We’re supposed to be talking about your upcoming stand up dates, but do you want to say anything about Harris Wittels? I know that you’ve written extensively about what you went through with your addiction (Delaney wrote about his alcoholism in his 2013 book Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.) and I figured you might want to talk about his passing since you just tweeted about it.
I don’t really know what to say.
I’m a comedian so maybe I’m more attuned to it but it just seems like so many comedians have been dying lately. Harris I know better than any other guy that just passed away recently.
I don’t have anything useful to say, I don’t even know how to turn it into a “Well hell, let’s all pull together” thing. I feel very, very sad…
I’ve been sober for 13 years now and part of my process is like I don’t pick on alcohol and drugs as bad, I just think there’s certain people that can’t do them and I happen to be one of them. But what happened here I just feel bad. I don’t have anything to say other than I’m really sad and I miss him and I hate that it happened. I have nothing eloquent to say, I have nothing that a young person struggling with addiction can hear and possibly, I have – anybody who wants to feel better about it – nothing for them. I feel sad and hurt and there’s a lot of people who care about, so you know, so that’s how I feel about that.
Sorry to start with that, I just feel like I couldn’t avoid that in any way and it’s important to recognize.
Yeah, yeah. I mean I’m performing in Boston tonight and you know he went to Emerson; I’m performing in Houston next week and that’s where he grew up and you know, all our friends are the same people. I mean its going to be… We’re going to hear a lot about it for a long time
You are where he went to school and you’re from there (Boston) too so is this going to come up tonight? Do you have to talk about this? Do you even think about that?
I don’t know, I mean, I don’t feel like I’m the guy to eulogize him. I might talk about if I possibly – cause fuck it I don’t care about how I feel. I could care less about my own feelings, who the fuck am I, you know. But if I possibly, for a second, felt that I might be able to say anything that might be of any use to a young person and – not even a young person just somebody who’s you know in danger from drugs or alcohol – if I could say something that might be of possible help to them then I might, but I’m not going to jerk off my own emotions in front of a crowd for my own – fuck that. You know?
I’m a professional standup comedian, just like Harris was, so I’m not going to go to a fucking therapy session on stage just to satisfy my own emotions, you know, I’m not going to be precious with myself.
The book I mentioned above, Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage., is fantastic and well worth a read. If you’re able to get the audio book, do that. If you’re too lazy to listen to an adult read to you, that’s understandable. Here’s a good video from last year of Rob at Google. Skip to 6:57 for a quick retelling of when he hit bottom. It involves nudity. And jail. I realize that just a few paragraphs above this Rob Delaney said he couldn’t say anything that might be of possible help, but I think it does.
We did talk about more than Harris’ untimely passing.
The sitcom it seems to be doing well. Are you enjoying it? Are there plans for season two? Is there an American air date? Is there any way I can illegally stream this..?
It is on Channel 4 in the UK and they’re so massively indispensable to its success [that] want to make sure people know it’s Channel 4. Secondly, having a tremendous amount of fun doing it. The final episode airs this week in the UK and then it will air here in the spring on Amazon, so that’s great. There will be a second season which we are writing right now. It does seem to be going well, it’s been well reviewed.
You’re living out there now?
Yeah, yeah. I’m in Boston right now, but I live in London with my wife and two kids.
How long has that been?
Five months, and we’ll be there for at least another year since we’re making a second season.
Has that affected anything else in your life? I mean you can’t really Tweet as much at the same times, you’re a lot busier nowadays, you have two very young children in a brand new country, how is it affecting your life?
It’s just great, just so great. I mean massively. I will simply say I enjoy and I learned a lot and I’m happy to be there.
What’s the one thing you really miss from not living in the States and what’s the one thing you really gain, that you had no idea about, by living in Europe?
Readily available Mexican food, because I lived in L.A. in the us, I miss that. I miss driving home from standup gigs in L.A. One of my favorite things to do in L.A. is to do standup, at the Improv or whatever, and then drive home listening to music really loud late at night. That really felt special. To just blast High on Fire driving on the freeway with the full moon, that’s a wonderful thing. But here I can do three gigs in one night.
The greatest thing about the UK is the NHS (National Health Service). I mean the healthcare system is so vastly superior to the United States that it just, I mean I laugh out loud when I go to the doctor or bring my kids to the doctor because it’s so easy. And they don’t make you sign the document that says they have, you know, that they’ll cut your mothers lungs out.
I know you’re a big baseball fan. Who are you rooting for this year and who do you think is actually going to win the World Series?
In the last few years I’ve had two children and my wife’s pregnant again, and between living out of the country, having all these children and having three jobs on this TV show for the last year, I am so out of the loop. Plus, my interest in baseball sort of gradually declined after 2004, because I didn’t realize I’m not a fair weather fan, I’m like a poor weather fan. So once the Red Sox won in 2004 that was pretty much, you know, it was 11 years ago I was –
Jesus, yeah, so 2015 now. So you know, that was the climax of sports in my life so there was nothing more. I can’t, I don’t care as much anymore. They won in 2007, I’m like, “Okay, cool.” Game seven of the American League Championship Series, when the Red Sox beat the Yankees, that was the climax. Winning the World Series was nice, but everybody knows it was the American League Championship Series that was the real thing. So after that it was kind of like, and you know I’ll watch if a game is on, but I just don’t even, can’t care anymore. Sports is over for me. We won, meaning we won sports. I mean the human race won sports in game seven of the American League Championship Series in 2004 so I don’t care anymore. I’m sorry to say that, I wish it wasn’t true because there’s a sports hole in my life, but I’ve filled it with just kids and jokes and stuff.
That seems a little bit healthier.
Yeah, it might be.
Rob Delaney will be at the Sixth & I Synagogue on Saturday, March 7. Tickets are currently available.