While listening to Rob Delaney’s “Live at the Bowery Ballroom” this week, there were a number of occasions when I had to stop and remind myself I wasn’t listening to Louis C.K. For those of you like myself who are fans of C.K., you’ll know that’s a pretty big compliment.
I’m not saying Delaney is imitating or copying anyone’s style; far from it. Delaney is completely original and has a knack for covering a huge variety of most decidedly adult material without making you feel dirty. That’s an accomplishment. The only downfall, of course, being the time you recommend the album to a Mennonite friend and then having to explain later, “Wow, I don’t remember it being that dirty” (the lesson, of course, is to not have Mennonite friends).
The pitch and timbre of Delaney’s voice, though, is remarkably similar to C.K.’s. I might not have noticed it as much if I saw Delaney in person or on a video since physically they look quite different, but when you’re just going by what you hear, it’s hard to not draw the connection. Pair that with the fact that Delaney is also hilarious and, well, you might see why I sometimes forgot who I was listening to.
There’s a great energy at work on this recording and once Delaney has the audience where he wants them (which he does right from the beginning as he announces his plan to make an egg salad sandwich for his favorite audience member after the show), they’re with him for the remainder of the hour.
One of the things I really like about Delaney’s style is the fact that you don’t know where he’s going. He managed to take me by surprise time after time and never once did he even let on there was a surprise waiting to be had. When he mentions he once had a bout of Hepatitis A, I never suspected what the source of the ailment would be. He makes a very strong case for favoring oceans over lakes and you may never wash your hands again in a public restroom without being reminded of why Delaney really, really, really prefers the current hand soap delivery system as compared to others in the past.
For every detail Delaney shares that shows how much of a good guy he is, he also lets something slip that might make you think twice about stopping by for a play date. He loves his wife, still finds her extremely sexy, and still wants to have sex with her, but he also wants to have sex with everyone in the audience, too. He’s a devoted Dad who adores his baby son. Never mind the fact that he loves him so much, he literally wants to eat the toddler and is jealous of his wife for having had the opportunity to carry him inside of her.
As funny as it is, the album wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is without the inclusion of a couple of anecdotes about odd situations in which Delaney found himself. There’s the time he went jogging and ended up having to construct an impromptu lean-to in which he could take care of a sudden urge to poop in front of an Hasidic Jewish woman’s house and the tale of his trip to a doctor in Beverly Hills and his subsequent parking garage venture really had me laughing. And, for those of you who wondered why Delaney doesn’t partake in sex with butts, well...that’s here, too. And it’s just as funny.
There are 14 tracks on this CD and each one of them comes packed with big laughs. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Delaney and hesitate at shelling out your hard-earned money on a comedian you don’t know, trust me on this one. An hour from now after you found yourself laughing at a day in the life of Delaney’s marriage and the fact that he uses other people’s kids to figure out how to raise his own, you’ll be glad you did.