The Tulane Hullabaloo

Comedian John Mulaney comes to town on “Kid Gorgeous” tour

John Mulaney brought his earnest sarcasm to the Mahalia Jackson Theater in Oct. 15. “I actually do have principles. I actually really only have one: I will buy alcohol for teenagers who need it,” Mulaney said.

Courtesy of Kat Justen

John Mulaney brought his earnest sarcasm to the Mahalia Jackson Theater in Oct. 15. “I actually do have principles. I actually really only have one: I will buy alcohol for teenagers who need it,” Mulaney said.

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With his “Kid Gorgeous” tour in full swing, comedian John Mulaney graced the stage of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts for two shows at 7 and 10 p.m. this past Sunday.

With three stand-up specials under his belt, two of which are available on Netflix, the 35-year-old Mulaney has hit his stride as a comedian since deciding to focus on his stand-up act, having previously worked as a writer, producer and actor in various capacities.

During his six-year tenure as a writer for Saturday Night Live, Mulaney worked closely with former cast member Bill Hader in creating the widely-loved character “Stefon,” a flamboyant city correspondent on “Weekend Update” who offers questionable advice on the latest hotspots for visitors to New York.

Unlike many comedians who have operated on as high a level as he has, Mulaney usually avoids taboo or controversial topics. Instead, he has become a master of telling relatable stories with some kind of new and witty spin on them, allowing him to appeal to a broader audience.

It’s hard to listen to Mulaney talk for long without realizing how talented a storyteller he is. Transitions between bits sometimes seem forced or unnatural for many comedians, but Mulaney’s entire act flows seamlessly, with each idiosyncratic story seeming to melt into the next.

As the show started, the voice of Mulaney boomed over the speaker as he introduced the opening act of Max Silvestri Wizard-of-Oz-style from behind the curtain. Silvestri warmed up the crowd with his self-deprecating brand of humor, with much of his material making fun of his own inability to fulfill the macho stereotype of his fellow heterosexual men.

As Silvestri wrapped up, the crowd erupted when Mulaney bounded onto the stage to begin his own act. Known for his observational style, Mulaney started his routine by noting the seeming chaos of the current New Orleans city election season.

“I’m so happy to be here now for your election season for every conceivable position in the city,” Mulaney said. “[All the campaign signs] just look like a field of bullshit.”

Keeping with the local trend, he commented on the somewhat gratuitous nature of the pervasive Halloween decorations in the Garden District.

‘“I want my antebellum mansion with crooked columns to look spooky!’” Mulaney sarcastically quipped. ‘“Maybe I’ll throw a bunch of fake goddamn skeletons on the wall.’”

Later on in his material, he recalled the story of an elementary school assembly on “Street Smarts,” featuring Chicago Child Homicide Detective J.J. Bittenbinder, a man sporting a handlebar mustache and a three-piece suit who “looked like he should be the conductor on a locomotive powered by confetti.”

In an exaggerated Chicago accent reminiscent of the famed “Bill Swerski’s Superfans” SNL sketch from the early ‘90s (better known by its catchphrase, “Da Bears”), Mulaney lampooned the overly-enthusiastic detective.

‘“Let’s say a guy pulls a knife on you’” Mulaney remembered Bittenbinder saying. “Because you remember that scourge of muggings in your school hallway? You know how muggers think. ‘Oh, I need money now! Maybe that third-grader with the Looney Toons wallet that only has blank photo laminate pages will be able to help me.”’

Mulaney went on to bring up topics like the uselessness of his English degree from Georgetown University before eventually getting a little political.

Expanding on a joke he has made on some late-night TV shows, Mulaney compared the Trump presidency to a horse being loose in a hospital: everything’s probably going to be okay, but no one really knows for sure, and anyone who tells you they do is lying.

While showing throughout the night that he is undoubtedly a very funny man, Mulaney wanted to make sure he left the audience knowing that he truly is a man of principle.

“I actually do have principles,” Mulaney said, “… I actually really only have one: I will buy alcohol for teenagers who need it.”

Take that as you will.

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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans
Comedian John Mulaney comes to town on “Kid Gorgeous” tour