A comedian best known for his lively Twitter feed chronicles his rocky path to sobriety.
Although the aphorism “We laugh to keep from crying” risks sounding clichéd, Delaney proves the point in this alternately melancholy and madcap depiction of an adolescence and early adulthood fueled by booze (“I sought booze with a fervor measurably more intense than that with which I sought to get into young women’s underpants”). From a relatively happy childhood spent exploding eggs in the microwave and worshiping the metal band Danzig, the author progressed to drinking to the point of blackout, often engaging in self-destructive behavior that alarmed his friends and provided him with ample fodder for scatological jokes. (Delaney makes no bones about the fact that he regularly wet his bed while drunk up to the age of 25.) Ultimately, a car accident that led to jail, rehab and a stint at a halfway house helped him kick the habit. Delaney peppers his often harrowing accounts of alcoholism (“I was a disastrous, dangerous, ridiculous alcoholic piece of shit”) with tales of embarrassing sexual encounters, hijinks while traveling in Europe and an ugly bout of hepatitis A that afflicted the writing staff of the MTV show Ridiculousness. Squeamish readers may be put off by Delaney’s almost-rapturous descriptions of bodily functions, but those who hang in there will be rewarded with a surprisingly moving story of how humor can alleviate sorrow, if never completely eradicate it. The chapter about visiting the abandoned Danvers State Hospital—infamous for carrying out countless lobotomies in the 20th century—is worth reading on its own for the empathy it evokes for the casualties of early mental health treatment.
Candid and conversational, this memoir shows there’s more to Delaney than pithy tweets.