John Mulaney's multicamera, semi-autobiographical comedy is the new classic sitcom on the block these days, complete with the traditional audience laugh.
The New York Times included it on a list of what it refers to as "Throwback TV," a phenomenon of shows that are copying the models of older, successful programs. Mulaney, with its mix of stand-up comedy routines and autobiographical format, has naturally been compared to Seinfeld. I'm glad we have someone out there keeping us up to date on these TV trends for us.
I have to admit that I have never followed Seinfeld, thus I leave the accuracy of this comparison to you fans out there.
What is familiar to me (and what this review is based on) is the genius that has been John Mulaney's stand-up comedy. New in Town was one of the funniest segments I have seen in a long time.
Unfortunately, Mulaney Season 1 Episode 1 failed to capture the reasons I loved and connected with Mulaney's stand-up.
Mulaney's stand-up often takes mundane aspects and events in life and turns them into ridiculous stories. Mulaney manages to make this funny, as any good comedian can do, but his stand-up also has a unique way of having imbedded insight.
In the introduction of the episode, Mulaney is telling his joke of running behind a woman in a subway station at two in the morning. He doesn't understand why the woman is afraid until he realizes that, from her perspective, a man is chasing her late at night, in a dark subway station.
Oh, shes running from me, because in her eyes I am an adult. And adults murder each other.Mulaney
He manages to humorously and simply point out the problem of only seeing something from one perspective. In this case, from the perspective of a man at the subway station late at night. Men and women obviously have some different perspectives here.
The sitcom tried to string these stand-up jokes into the the story, but it felt like neither the original comedy or the impact translated well.
The story of a guy going to the doctor to get some Xanax, who ends up getting his prostate checked instead, is funny in his stand-up, but when it takes place on screen it feels completely staged and too absurd. When told in stand-up, the joke was ridiculous, uncomfortable, self-deprecating and made fun of adult life. Good stuff!
Doctor: Alright you are going to feel a little pressure.
Mulaney: I guess this might as well happen, adult life is weird. But doctor sometimes I get nervous on airplanes....ohhhhhhhhh!
Throughout the episode it is noticeable that John Mulaney is a stand-up comedian, and not an actor. Although, I think it's more than fair to cut him some slack for this, as he may get more comfortable on screen in later episodes.
I was happy that Mulaney's tendency to use his boyish, youthful looks to make fun of himself and how he is perceived came through on screen. This another part of his stand-up bit that makes it so funny to watch.
While I was disappointed that some critical aspects of his stand-up were lost in the sitcom format, I still don't want to completely write this show off. Jane and Motif, Mulaney's two roommates, had some funny lines throughout the episode. (Of course they also had many lines that I just did not care about.)
Mulaney: Lou just talks at me for hours. It's like he's trying to torture me and he's my best friend.
Jane: Ahhh I miss my sorority.
I do feel that there may be some potential here for new material from John Mulaney; and that is what I hope for and look forward too.
Unfortunately, based on what critics are saying so far, I am not sure if we will get a chance to see this show beyond the first season. Unless audience ratings say otherwise you may, in fact, be able to keep good stand-up down.
What did you think of this new sitcom? What character did you think was the funniest? Most annoying? What were the best Mulaney quotes?
Leave your comments below and watch Mulaney online if you missed this opener.