Home Theatre: Rob Delaney: Jackie - Raconteur extraordinaire
A fortnightly column that focuses on notable content available on the streaming platforms around you, and this week, it's Rob Delaney: Jackie, streaming on Amazon Prime
I came upon the new Amazon Original comedy special, Rob Delaney: Jackie, quite by chance. I had never heard of Delaney before and generally tend not to seek out stand-up comedy. But a clip from Rob Delaney: Jackie came up on my Twitter timeline, which has him describing his young sons' first conversation with him after learning of homosexuality. His recounting of this incident was so amusing and gladdening — I'm smiling again even just thinking of it — I decided at once to watch the full stand-up show.
For a few minutes at the beginning, I second-guessed my choice. The show is tagged as a comedy and the audience were laughing in quite a few places that to me, were not that funny at all. But Delaney warms up quickly or I warmed up to his style, and from then on till the end of this stand-up special, I was completely absorbed.
I still wouldn't call this a comedy show. There is humour — the way he describes his circumcised penis, for instance, is completely hilarious — but that's not the main draw. Delaney is not so much a comedian as a raconteur. And a most excellent one at that. Take his narration of an incident when he and his sons were scammed by a man pretending to be hurt in order to get some money. It's not particularly funny or novel, but the way Delaney tells it, it's somehow engaging. And then there are the magical instances where his superlative storytelling meets his absurd sense of humour. A recounting of a most ridiculous dream being a case in point.
Jackie is a stand-up act with a loose, rambling structure. Delaney goes from anecdotes about his children to living in the UK and his love for the NHS to Donald Trump to the time he spent in jail to the story about the titular Jackie (who was not what I expected at all!) to online grocery shopping and so much more in this hour-long special. And he often jumps from one anecdote to another quite abruptly without making any efforts at segueing. But he still entirely holds our interest.
I mentioned Delaney's love for the NHS (UK's National Health Service) as one of the things he talks about. The man is quite open about his political leaning and takes potshots at both the President of the country he has left behind and his adopted country's monarchy. It's not just his political leaning that is liberal. His use of profanity is extremely liberal too (Amazon rates the show 16+). However, both become him in equal measure. Delaney pushes the borders of inappropriateness but never punches down.
What I loved the most is how everything he says seems to come from a place of honesty, and even vulnerability. I'm sure there are bits that are made up and things that are exaggerated but Rob Delaney himself feels real up on that stage. He is not just a persona that's being put on for our benefit. And nowhere is Delaney more real than when talking about his family. The stories about his children were by far my favourite parts of the show. I especially loved how while a lot of that is heartwarming, it's also not all rainbows and helping homeless men. There are snails being eaten and tantrums being thrown too. Life is never all sweet or all sour. It's the mix of the sugar and spice that makes it nice, and the same applies to Rob Delaney: Jackie too.