Not Quite Horror: “Rob Delaney: Live at the Bowery Ballroom” (2012)


Not Quite Horror contains reviews of films not traditionally considered horror films. By analyzing them as horror films (identifying the monster, discussing the shared worry for the audience and the main characters, and understanding the depth of horror available to the viewer), who knows? There’s more than one way to watch a movie.

Rob Delaney: Live at the Bowery Ballroom (2012)

The Monster: Rob Delaney could not look like a sweeter man. He sports a boyish haircut and disarming smile. He’s fit, as his swimsuit wearing Twitter avatar proves. He’s overcome a troubled past and is now a happily married husband and father.

And yet.

When Rob Delaney opens his mouth, horrible moments pile one atop another. His demeanor never changes, but his comedy takes him into horribly awkward discussions of thoughts far outside the bounds of propriety.

The Horror: : It’s far too easy to pretend we live in a society free from taboos, shame, and blushing. After all, a person can find anything they want on the internet and can access that information anywhere.

Delaney crafts his comedy like a storyteller, forcing the audience to spend time in places they forgot were uncomfortable. Once they’re trapped, they’re helpless, squirming, and laughing as the boyish comedian performs his act.

The Shared Fate: Delaney’s humor relies less on sharp punchlines and more on mood and exaggeration.

This comedy is not safe. Laughter implicates you of, at very best, being aware of the thoughts and urges he riff on. It may even reveal your own inner perversions to a crowded room.

So it’s best not to laugh. Except trying not to laugh makes comedy funnier.

— I am indebted to Noel Carroll’s The Philosophy of Horror for his ideas on defining horror, as well as John Skipp and Craig Spector’s article “Death’s Rich Pageantry, or Skipp & Spector’s Handy-Dandy Splatterpunk Guide to the Horrors of Non-horror Film” in Cut! Horror Writers on Horror Film for a similar idea.–

–Axel Kohagen