Delaney: Standup finds following on Twitter

10 Comics to Watch 2012 - Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney was playing Sir Lancelot in a road show of “Camelot” when the standup bug bit. “We were running late because our bus had broken down, and I was doing sound check in front of the audience when I made them laugh. At that point, I was like, ‘I want to do comedy for the rest of my life.’?”

The Boston native soon moved west and began performing at venues in Los Angeles, hoping to get noticed. But the industry wasn’t terribly interested in Delaney’s longform, story-based style of comedy. Then, in 2009, Delaney set up a Twitter account and proved that he could be hilarious in 140 characters or fewer — often a lot fewer.

“I had been slaving away in the mines doing all the traditional stuff, but Twitter exposed me to other people,” says Delaney, whose short, wildly irreverent posts earned him the distinction of Funniest Person on Twitter at Comedy Central’s Comedy Awards.

“Since I wasn’t making a living doing comedy at the time, I didn’t feel bad about giving material away,” he says. “There was a time in the beginning when people were saying, ‘You can’t give it away for free. Make people pay for it.’ But I couldn’t make people pay for it.”

Now they do. Delaney’s tweets have amassed more than half a million followers — an audience that has translated into real ticket sales. The attention even earned him gigs on the British series “The IT Crowd” and MTV’s “Ridiculousness.”

“I went from telemarketing and doing standup for nickels to having two TV writing jobs,” he says.

Since then, Delaney has shot a special he plans to self-distribute via his website, as well as a pilot for Comedy Central, appropriately titled “@robdelaney.” He’s also busy penning a book for Random House and a screenplay.

But his true love remains standup. He performs monthly shows at UCB with friend Dave Holmes and has sets slated at Just for Laughs and the New York Comedy Festival, as well as a sold-out weeklong stint for October at London’s Soho Theater.

“Twitter wasn’t here last week, and it won’t be here next week, but I’ll still be making jokes,” he says.

P.O.V.: “Can you afford milk and pants? Then you’re rich. Anything above that is just ridiculous.”
Influences: Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Joan Rivers.
Reps: WME/Avalon/Bloom Hergott Diemer Rosenthal LaViolette Feldman Schenkman and Goodman