You May Not Like The New John Mulaney

- Celebrity News -
You May Not Like The New John Mulaney

In the opening half-hour of John Mulaney's From Scratch comedy show, the comedian recalls an interaction with his interventionist, who told him she heard he was nice. Chain-smoking by an open window at the height of winter, he hisses back, "Don't believe the persona."

It's an honest revelation that might as well be the subtitle listed on the Playbill alongside baby Mulaney's disheveled mug. Because during the comedian's 90 minutes on stage at Philadelphia's Academy of Music — where I saw him in his first stand-up tour since 2017's Kid Gorgeous tour — he strips away at his own previously well-maintained image, bit by comedy bit. What we're left with is perhaps the most genuine version of Mulaney we've ever seen. The good news is, the real Mulaney is still hilarious. The bad news is, you might not like the real Mulaney.

At his best (I would argue New In Town), Mulaney served as a sardonic Everyman who could tap into our obsessions with jokes about Law & Order: SVU and nostalgia. But somewhere between Kid Gorgeous and From Scratch, Mulaney became a bona fide celebrity, one who could headline Saturday Night Live (four times!) and attract star-studded talent like Jake Gyllenhaal for his Netflix special. Fame transforms as much as it corrupts, and what was once relatable in Mulaney's comedy is now not. It's certainly funny to hear that Mulaney left tabloid stories about himself out in the open in order to be recognized in rehab, but stories like these create a considerable distance between comedian and audience in what's supposed to be the most intimate of mediums. In the same way that we no longer believe Jerry Seinfeld joking about airline food (a man worth $950 million does not eat with the peons in coach), Mulaney is now in a point of no return with his comedy: we now know that he is not one of us.

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