Rob Delaney at Turner Hall
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If you recognize the name Rob Delaney, you’re likely among his close-to 679,000 Twitter followers. There, in the same realm that has rendered the likes of Kelly Oxford, Julieanne Smolinski, and Dad Boner household names, this once-middling comic has seen his career grow exponentially, one retweet at a time. Thursday night, during Delaney’s standing-room-only Turner Hall performance (and his first show in Milwaukee), the comedian ventured outside his 140-character wheelhouse and allowed those in attendance a glimpse of just one crude-yet-charismatic character during a long-form rendition of his distinct brand of humor.
The sage spinner of sophomoric yarns wasted no time in setting the tone for the evening with an opener about witnessing a bum defecating in an alley, followed by other tales of people “poopin’ shit outta their butts.” From there, Delaney quickly transitioned to his attraction to Indian women, wearing boxer shorts too long, and a chance run-in with a dairy farmer during his flight to town. (“You know a dairy farmer has to be the best at jerking off in the whole world.”)
Occasionally, the stream-of-consciousness scatter missed the topics of genitals, feces, and impressions of Adolf Hitler pantomiming masturbation at the sight of Delaney’s especially Aryan-looking young son. Delaney made sure to work in gut-busting bits about writing a letter to Danzig when he was 11 (then getting unsolicited mail back from the band when he stopped writing), a passionate tirade about the scrutiny of Olympic judges, and social commentary on the strategic racial makeup of modern commercials, each bit more fearless than the one before it.
All the while, the crowd fought to keep up with Delaney’s rapid-fire and random thought process, which bounced from his ongoing fight against straight rights to his three wishes to improve his marriage—1. Miniaturize self to bathe with a sparrow; 2. Go to the bathroom just once a year, to save time; 3. Turn himself gay, then turn wife into a muscular guy—without missing a beat, before he eventually nestled back into the comfy comedic confines of vivid dick and shit jokes.
Somehow, Delaney managed to come off as tender amid bits about wanting to buy a Groupon to re-finger past partners to show them that he now knows how, and the highlights from his 20-some years of bedwetting. Delving unabashedly into his most vulnerable low point, Delaney managed to talk about his sobriety and his stints in jail and a halfway home with casts on all limbs, which simultaneously endeared him to the already-won-over ballroom and made the subsequent jokes about jerking off in a halfway house barn with broken arms all the more hilarious.
Thursday’s performance served to prove that the Twitter pioneer could succeed in any format and at any length. Intensely personal, unreserved, strangely sensitive, and no-holds-barred comedy will never be over capacity.