John Mulaney – The Comeback Kid

2020-06-08 13_29_22-John Mulaney - The Comeback Kid - Google Docs

This is John Mulaney’s second recorded special. It starts with a few overshots of New York, and then we see him address his dog Petunia in the dressing room. The dog speaks to him in a silly voice. This special came out in 2015, and I wasn’t a huge stand up comedy fan back then. I was in college and only ever went to stand up comedy that happened on campus, but I would watch a ton of comedy on Netflix. I wish I could go back and see what was on Netflix in 2015, because I know I watched John Mulaney, Gary Gulman and Eugene Mirman, but who did I not watch? Did they have specials more like Bert Kirshner or Joe Rogan?

It starts with a killer joke where he tells the crowd they need to space their energy out, and goes into an imaginary story that we’ve all been through about making a happy birthday sign and drawing the letters too big. This joke is quick and gets the crowd adjusted to his style, but it’s also one that I’ve heard other people reference multiple times. It’s just so relatable, and a very quotable joke.

After that bit he gets into a string of jokes about marrying his girlfriend. He starts it with talking about how powerful it feels to use the wife and tells a story about getting on a plane with priority booking and asking if his wife can also board now. Then he tells an extended analogy where he criticizes the phrase “Why buy the cow if you’re getting the milk.” So many comics have overtly negative jokes about their wives, and this straight up reversal. I had never heard something so positive about women from a stand up comedian before I had watched this (originally in 2015).

Mulaney does a bit about being a kid, and compares it now. He does a voice of a kid that has that Mitch Hedberg or Hannibal Burress vibe to it. He does it with a light touch though, so that he’s able to express his joke without feeling like a bit of character work. This part on children also includes a breakdown of the friendship of Marty Mcfly and Doc Brown. This special has a ton of great little references through, just small mentions of the movie Heat, or Saved by the Bell, that doesn’t necessitate having seen those to really get the jokes Mulaney is making.
The ending joke is a story about Mulaney’s mom bringing him to a fundraiser for Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign. This joke starts with him recalling a story of his mom meeting Bill Clinton in college and ending with him finding out about the Monica Lewiski scandal via his dad throwing a newspaper at his face. This story is simple and humble and homely. He executes it perfectly and expresses clearly how a kid would feel about Bill Clinton, while also reflecting with clearer eyes on Clinton during that time.

I didn’t do this full transcript, but I would if it wasn’t out there.

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