Mulaney (2014)

John Mulaney has a brand of comedy that appeals to Millennials, Xennials, Gen-Zs (or whatever the current crop of youth has been dubbed by the media). Despite some personal blemishes and controversies, his comedy is still rated highly for his observations. In 2014, a short-lived sitcom based on his comedy was commissioned, marrying old premises, with new ideas, all to showcase his celebrated take on the world in Mulaney.

Each episode starts with a clip from Mulaney’s standup, much like Seinfeld!

John Mulaney is a minor successful comic/joke writer who works for Lou Cannon, Cannon is a bit of an arrogant eccentric, but is an okay boss. Meanwhile, his room-mates, another comic, Motif, shares a tiny apartment with his buddy Mulaney. Along with Jane, who has a temperamental personality, but still retains a good friendship with the duo. The show deals with these trying their best to deal with the relatable chaos of modern living in N.Y.C. weekly exploits, dealing with his job and various other social pressures. Mulaney finds ways to inject some of his patented millennial insights into the conventional sitcom mould.

Mulaney offers a good chance to work with the great Martin Short.

Mulaney comes from a long line of network sitcoms inspired by the stand-up routines of their stars. Most of them try to emulate the success of Seinfeld. Mulaney even has the man himself delivering his stand-up much like Jerry, and comparisons between the two are a recurring element of the show. Mulaney fully leans into the sitcom formula, despite the supposed unfashionable stigma of a standard sitcom. A lot of the time, Mulaney feels in on the joke of the format, with one episode even pulling apart the what-would-happen-if-said-character-wasn’t-born trope. Yet, considering how the target audience also gravitated towards rediscovering Friends, the choice might have been an inspired one in helping fans of all familiarity get onboard.

Mulaney’s show covers the relatable aspects of youthful living in a small(ish) apartment in New York!

As broadly a conventional sitcom, a lot of the antics comes from Mulaney’s friends and work. Mulaney’s employment as a gag writer on Cannon’s game show is a fun conceit, with a constant callback to nobody knowing how it is played, and some of the more outlandish special episodes. Plus John helping Canon far and beyond his job description as a joke writer. Here, Martin Short is a delight, letting his eccentric energy and delivery translate into more than sure-fire hits. Nasim Pedrad who plays Persian fitness instructor, Jane, lets her emotions and her temperament lead her to hilarious circumstances, like pretending to be a dead man’s spouse to get his rent-controlled apartment. Seaton Smith also has a lot of fun portraying fellow comedian Motif, discovering the hit show Friends, and trying to get his catchphrase off the ground. As is the insightfully hilarious lines from Elliot Gould as Oscar the wise, gay, Jewish next-door neighbour, and Zack Pearlman as Andre, a pitiful drug dealer, yet friend also helps punch up a lot of the scenes.

Mulaney’s job as a joke writer for Lou Cannon allows for a lot of comedy about the world of entertainment!

Although short-lived, Mulaney offers a respectable vehicle for the eponymous standup’s comedy, one that despite its conventional trappings feels fresh enough for the audiences of half a decade ago. The fusion of old talent and new ideas is an enjoyable mix, especially in seeing the genesis of Mulaney’s future comedy. While Mulaney’s stand-up will continue to flourish long after the decline of this sitcom. Mulaney is proof that some ideas never go out of style.

Eliot Gould also has fun lines as Mulaney’s wise neighbour, Oscar.

If you want more positive reviews delivered to the e-mail box of your choice, you can click on that little text bubble at the bottom of the screen. Do you agree or disagree? or have a suggestion for another pop-culture artefact that needs a positive light shone on it? Leave a comment in the comment box below! But remember to keep it positive!

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