John Mulaney L'Olympia, Montreal QC, July 29
Published Jul 30, 2017John Mulaney's new hour of standup is one to top the rest. Mulaney was typically slick, funny and at times amusingly angry in a way only he can manage. He even managed to get a little political, a rarity for the Comeback Kid.
Mulaney has to be one of the most pointedly affable comedians in recent memory. His material regarding his almost anxiety-inducing politeness was brilliant. It's a subject he's broached in his past comedy specials The Comeback Kid and New in Town and it's lost none of its impact. It solidified his performance style as genuine. Whether cordially greeting balloons mistaken for people or wishing he had a Best Buy card for the sake of a cashier's self-esteem, Mulaney is civil to the bitter end. Clinging to one's manners for dear life has never been so funny.
Coming across as one who avoids writing jokes about politics, it was exciting to hear Mulaney's take on America's political state of affairs. Mulaney calculatedly declined to mention Trump by name, preferring to tackle the administration through metaphor, comparing it to a horse being let loose in a hospital. Equine elevators, "horse catchers" (James Comey) being fired by horses, and an electorate willing to put a horse in a hospital on the grounds of hospital inefficiency, were all highlights in an allegory that could have been extrapolated on ad nauseum without losing the crowd.
Mulaney joked derisively about grappling with and failing at meditation, a bit which dissolved into an impromptu Talking Heads song about doing dishes that would have made an excellent unearthed B-side.
He closed his set with a hilarious piece depicting a down-and-out John Mulaney of five or so years ago writing for commercials and asking Baltimore Ravens football player accused of murder — unbeknownst to him — Ray Lewis for life advice. His last words to the captivated audience were "if you EVER see Ray Lewis, don't listen to him. You'll wind up with an awful sitcom and shit in your pants."
John Mulaney isn't reinventing the wheel as far as his standup goes. His material — when he is speaking contemporaneously about his life — picks up more or less where his last comedy special left off; he extrapolates on his wife's walking him through his crippling social mannerisms, his French Bulldog's unfortunate proneness to being face humped and so on. While much of his set drew on topics from earlier specials, his performance showed an even more finely tuned comic virtuoso than witnessed on any of his preceding comedy specials.