Rob Delaney has been in England for five months, the result of a life-changing move that sent him to London to begin a new career as writer, producer, and star of Catastrophe, his irreverent sitcom co-starring fellow comedian Sharon Horgan, which premiered on England’s Channel 4 in January.
These days, Delaney’s more family-oriented than one would expect from the guy who was the recipient of the “Funniest Person on Twitter Award” in 2012. Sober since 2002 and with kid number three on the way, he extolls the virtues of life in London—the quality of the gyms, and of course, socialized medicine—and his list of perks seems more suited to a father than to an entertainer.
“The biggest culture shock is definitely the healthcare,” he says. “Over here, you come to a hospital and they’re like, ‘Come on in!’ In America they’re like, ‘Give us all of your money and stick this ticking time bomb up your ass that’ll explode unless you give us, like, $1,000 for a vaccine!’”
The real-life Rob couldn’t be more different from his onscreen character of the same name, “a sturdy love-maker” who finds himself entangled in a whirlwind relationship with an Irish woman (Sharon Horgan). The fling becomes a whole lot more serious when she gets pregnant and they decide to keep the baby, despite the fact that that they barely know each other outside of the bedroom (just one of several locations where they find themselves doing the deed … a lot). The show is a runaway hit in the UK, where it’s already been renewed for a second season. Amazon Prime has an exclusive deal to bring Catastrophe to US viewers this spring.
Delaney and Horgan met on Twitter, and he insists she’s “the funniest person in the world.” He credits their writing partnership with much of the comedy magic that happens onscreen. “[The partnership] drives us both to be better, and not to let any nonsense get in there. No chaff, or whatever,” Delaney says. “We work hard on each other, in a loving way.”
Catastrophe, in its raw and rude—but somehow still-romantic—way, marks a moment of maturation for Delaney, who finds himself settling down a bit in real life. The sitcom’s success seems to be the logical next step for the prolific social media celebrity, comedian, author, and now transcontinental TV star. He finds that working on the show has really helped him hit his stride as an actor, but especially as a comedy writer.
“I mean, acting is fun, but anybody can act—or rather, a lot of people can act. My favorite part? I would say it’s developing an idea, then honing it, making it funnier and funnier through revision, sort of letting your imagination run free and then corralling it, shaping it into real, sustainable, performable ideas,” he says. “The best part for me is learning more about writing. The fact that people are actually watching it on television is ridiculous.”
In the midst of all of this work, Delaney will be returning to his roots with a 12-date tour of the US, Meat, which kicks off in Boston.
“The word ‘meat’ just makes me laugh,” he says. Material will cover “just my life.” He explains: “I’m more of a dad now. You know, older, and angrier, and sadder, and fatter, and hairier. I’ve gotta delve deeper into that, you know?”
He laments the fact that he’ll only be in Boston for one night, and that he won’t have time to eat at Regina’s. True to form, he speaks with a mix of self-deprecation and raunchiness that has endeared him to his fans and gives him away as a regular guy at heart, a guy who just happens to be a big—and steadily growing bigger—name in comedy.
“A woman flashed me once. It was distracting. I like to see boobs, but not when I’m onstage, because then it’s hard to focus,” he says. “Yeah, I’m super boring. I should be in jail or something. My imagination, I hope, isn’t. But in practice? I bore myself.”