BBC Radio 4 - Desert Island Discs - Seven things we learned from Rob Delaney’s Desert Island Discs

Rob Delaney

Rob Delaney is a talented performer, author, and entertainer, most famous for his work on the acclaimed show Catastrophe, which he helped create and starred in with Sharon Horgan. The show, which aired from 2015 to 2019 on Channel 4, earned Rob and Sharon prestigious awards for their writing. In 2022, Rob penned his popular book A Heart That Works detailing his experience coping with the loss of his young son Henry to a devastating illness. Recently, Rob has appeared in big-budget movies such as Deadpool and Mission Impossible.

Here are seven insights we gained from Rob's playlist on Desert Island Discs...

Tune in to BBC Sounds to catch the episode with complete music tracks before anyone else.

Sometimes I wish I could come up with a story about a strange herb farmer on a moon of Jupiter who communicates in unusual ways and has no connection to my own life. Unfortunately, that's not how it usually goes. Perhaps I'll figure it out one day.

His Sense Of Humor Comes From His Mother

I remember a time when my sister and I were young and came home. We walked into the room where our mom was reading a newspaper. We called out to her, saying 'Mummy, Mum.' She lowered the newspaper and was wearing a very realistic Halloween mask of an old man, bald and wrinkled with a big black beard. My sister and I screamed in fear and held onto each other tightly. We floated in the air, embracing each other, while our mom laughed at her prank.

His Stand-up Career Started With A Broken Bus

Rob majored in musical theatre at New York University and landed his debut role as Sir Lancelot in a national tour of the musical Camelot by Frederick Loewe and Alan Jay Lerner. During one memorable incident, the tour bus experienced mechanical issues, causing the cast to arrive late to the performance venue. Rob shares his recollection of the mishap...

In my opinion, that is quite lovely. Continuously choosing to put effort into making the marriage successful is truly admirable. That is something unique and meaningful.

Rob is talking about how he created the successful TV series Catastrophe.

We arrived 20 minutes late to the theater in West Virginia where 2500 people were waiting for us. We had to quickly do a sound check, which involves singing a bit of a song and saying a few lines from the play. I didn't want to give away the plot of Camelot, since the audience already knew it. I talked about our day, how we broke down by a river in Virginia, and people found it funny. From then on, the atmosphere was filled with comedy.

"Catastrophe's Aim: A Glimpse Into Real Marriage"

Sharon Horgan and I were tired of watching sitcoms that portrayed husbands as clueless and wives as overwhelmed and annoying. We found it more realistic to show the ups and downs of marriage, from feeling completely in love with your partner to wanting to strangle them over something as silly as criticizing your socks. Marriage is a rollercoaster of emotions, but that's what makes it all worth it.

The couple understood that maintaining a happy marriage requires effort from both people every day. Rob explained, “We wanted to highlight the hard work and dedication needed to make a marriage last. It's like rolling up your sleeves and putting in the effort, even when things get tough. It may not always be easy, but choosing to work on the relationship day after day is what makes it truly special and romantic.”

Rob and his wife first crossed paths while working together as volunteers at a summer camp for individuals with disabilities. Their union has lasted for nearly two decades.

Preparing For Mid-life Crisis With Steely Dan

At 47 years old, I am starting to consider the type of mid-life crisis that suits me. Since I don't partake in alcohol or drugs, and I am happily married with a loving family, my mid-life crisis will have to be mild. I am contemplating the idea of joining a group that covers Steely Dan songs. The first time I heard a Steely Dan track on the radio, I knew I liked their music. However, it was when I listened to "Fire in the Hole" that I felt a stronger connection and started to delve deeper into their discography.

I gazed at him and felt overwhelmed with emotion, completely smitten and wanting to hold him close, inhale his scent, and keep him safe.

Rob is sharing about the arrival of his fourth son.

"Fire in the Hole" is the sixth track on Rob's album and can be found on Steely Dan's first record, Can't Buy a Thrill, which came out in 1972.

"New Baby Brings Joy To Rob After Son's Loss"

In 2018, Rob's son Henry, who was two and a half years old, passed away from a brain tumour. During this difficult time, Rob's wife was pregnant with their fourth child, a son, who was born later that year. Rob acknowledges that he experienced conflicting emotions leading up to the birth of his son.

I was contemplating how my heart had been broken into fragments, shattered and dissolved in sadness, feeling worthless. Despite this, I made a decision to take care of this child - to provide nourishment and proper attire. However, I was unsure if I could truly love him. Then, the moment he was born, I couldn't help but cry tears of joy, overwhelmed with love for him. I wanted to hold him close, protect him, and shower him with affection. From that instant, I felt an intense and unconditional love for him.

As He Ages, He Becomes More Patient With His Creative Pursuits

I used to be more arrogant, but now I am proud to say that I am willing to write a not-so-great first draft. This is something that distinguishes the experienced writers from the beginners. The beginners are scared to produce a rough first draft. They may start writing, not like what they see, and then decide to give up. Experienced writers, on the other hand, recognize that a bad first draft is normal and necessary. They acknowledge the flaws, but keep pushing forward. For me, a successful day is not judged by the quality of my writing, but by how much time I spent typing away at my keyboard without interruption.

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