Saturday, April 20, 2024

Commentary: John Mulaney, back in town

MosaicCommentary: John Mulaney, back in town
Gershom Shahid/THE REVIEW
The award-winning comedian enters a new phase of his career (and life) with the most real version of himself.

Staff Reporter

John Mulaney is once again back on stage after over a year off of comedy shows. Over that length of time, he has gone through many challenging events.

His new show is titled “John Mulaney: From Scratch,” which is quite fitting for the material used, and I had the privilege to see him live in Philadelphia on Oct. 3. I have been a fan of his for a very long time, the last time seeing him live was at the university in 2017 during his “Kid Gorgeous” tour, which was gut-wrenchingly funny.

His name has been in the news a lot recently for many different reasons. Namely, going to rehab, being released from rehab, getting a divorce, being in a new relationship and having his first child on the way. 

The famous comedian had more than enough going on in his life to touch on with his comedy, which he has never been afraid to do. Mulaney’s comedy routines almost always revolve around personal aspects of his life, which make it feel very genuine. Most of his routine reflects his addictions and rehab, and the series of events that lead to his sobriety.

Mulaney has openly talked about his drug and alcohol addictions over the course of his career. He became sober when he was in his early 20s upon realizing he had alcoholism. He had many ups and downs leading to his most recent relapse, but he came out strong in the end.

His new show caused me to have a series of emotions, from tears of laughter to tears of joy. Overall, “From Scratch” is an amazing hour and 15 minutes.

He opened his show by making a joke about how announcing the birth of his first child was received with “mixed reviews.” Due to the fact that it was seen as problematic by a majority of the public. 

There are many layers as to why people were disappointed in him, with valid reasoning, but I think it is always important to respect a person’s privacy, regardless of how famous they are or how much of their life they share. He was brave enough to go public about his addiction and rehab, but what he does with his personal relationships isn’t completely in the public’s position to judge unless warranted.

One of Mulaney’s first jokes of the night was off-script and made it feel very special. It was about how in college, he was at a Grateful Dead cover band show and wanted to do cocaine, but could only find acid. So he decided to buy it and started tripping when his friends told him they were just going home after. When they did eventually get home he made everyone play horseshoes, even though he never had played horseshoes in his life before, and he didn’t miss a single turn. 

“If you’re going to play horseshoes, make sure you’re drunk and on acid and you’ll always win,” Mulaney says to conclude the joke.

A bit that was received very well by the crowd was about his intervention. When he began listing the names of the people who attended, the chorus of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ prompted him to jokingly say “Oh yeah, it was a star-studded affair. It was like the ‘We Are the World’ of alternative comedians over 40,” Mulaney says. 

He continued on to poke fun at himself and his process of sobriety by making a joke about how not a single soul at his rehab center knew who he was, a humbling experience for the celebrity comedian.

While diving into the stories he told about his addiction process, a part that really stood out to me was his relationship with his drug dealer. During his stint in rehab, he was instructed to “break up” with his drug dealer and delete their contact. The dealer congratulated him and told him how proud he was of him for getting sober. The joke was that the dealer didn’t even know why he was Mulaney’s dealer. He was an artist and he just dealt drugs to Mulaney because he wanted them to be safe. It definitely was my favorite joke of the night and also very sweet if it’s completely true.

Right before he closed the show by thanking the crowd and fans for sticking by. 

“In the darkest time of my life, I never thought I would have gotten out and I’m grateful that I can still be here and do this,” Mulaney says. It brought many tears out of the crowd, including myself.

He concluded his show by reading excerpts from an interview he had with GQ Magazine. This phone interview took place Dec. 15, 2020, and he checked into rehab on Dec. 18, so it’s easy to imagine how chaotic Mulaney was during the interview. He reenacted his responses to his questions which had me clutching my stomach because of how hard I was laughing. Although it was the end of the show, this had to be the funniest part of his show. It was definitely a great conclusion to everything that had led up to it.

John Mulaney is a comedian I will always rely on to make me laugh because he puts everything into his comedy. Seeing “John Mulaney: From Scratch” was the best impulse decision I have made in a while. If this show does not make it onto Netflix, I’ll feel guilty for those who couldn’t experience the laughs that the whole crowd felt that night.

Erin McGay is a staff reporter for The Review. Her opinions are her own and do not represent the majority opinion of The Review’s editorial staff. She may be reached at




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