It's probably hard enough to walk onto a stage and make people laugh, but it's certainly a lot harder when a crew of rowdy people start the show with name-calling before the comic can even hit his stride. To be fair, the person calling out to Delaney was the same person I'd seen urinating in the parking lot just minutes before, so it didn't come as much of a surprise to me. Delaney handled them, they left, and he introduced his opener, local comedian Andrew Orvedahl. It would have been a nice gesture had there not been hecklers, but it was even nicer with them. I'd imagine Orvedahl, who hinges most of his jokes on his own nerdiness, isn't the best at handling the type of people who piss between cars at the Gothic Theatre.
But he is good at dealing jokes and, as a warm-up, he probably outshined Delaney a bit, even though he was a bit scatterbrained in his thoughts. Orvedahl's usual repertoire of jokes, by its nature, appeals to white, suburban dorks -- or at least anyone who spends the bulk of their time on Xbox Live -- but he flattened it out a bit here, talking less about his own dorkiness than he might have in the past. For their part, the crowd seemed pretty uninterested, but they wouldn't be particularly interested in Delaney when he walked up either.
Here's the thing with Rob Delaney: He's filthy. He likes to talk about sex, woman, men, medical exams and shitting. A lot. But he's also a teacher in a way. To Delaney, it's about acceptance -- women, with boobs big and small, floppy or saggy, it doesn't matter, just woman with boobs is what interests Delaney and wants people to understand their beauty. He taught us that when women shower, it's always in slow motion. That a man with no pants and just a shirt on is the saddest thing in the world. That, if you truly love someone, you should occasionally want to kill them.
He kept returning to those hecklers at the beginning. Looking up at the place they once occupied before they left, held down now by a pair of nice looking people, he would just smile. He'd thank them and the rest of the crowd before telling us he was probably interested in having sex with each of us, and it made us all feel good.
A rocky start might have derailed the whole thing, but both comics were able to hold it together in a room that couldn't possibly be less exciting. That's partially the fault of the Gothic, with its cavernous open area and tables set too far apart, it wasn't easy to feel connected in laughter or shame with the strangers next to you. We couldn't squirm in our seats as Delaney outlined the process of having a beautiful doctor inspect his genitalia and we couldn't look to each other and laugh when he described the hair of the singer of the Counting Crows as having a crows nest. We could barely even cringe when the hecklers were yelling idiotic comments at the stage.
Foulness and intimacy should go hand in hand. Dick jokes are just so much funnier when a grandma is sitting next to you. But Delaney was nice. He appreciated us, and even if the crowd was never fully invested, it felt like it was fully cherished.