by Ryan Meehan
Wednesday I was very excited because I received a package from New York City containing the new record from standup comedian and writer John Mulaney. John writes for Saturday Night Live at the moment and is best known for his work as a correspondent on the “Weekend Update” segment with Seth Meyers. Mulaney’s second standup record is called “New in Town”, the follow-up to his album “The Top Part” which was released back when he was touring on the Comedians of Comedy tour in 2007 with Patton Oswalt and Brian Posehn. Additionally, he was most recently named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the “Eight rising starts guaranteed to keep you laughing for years”.
John sort of looks like Michael Buble, but more heroin chic, sans the track marks. He’s a skinny guy, and speaks in a relatively high register. He’s written for several different awards shows and television shows, but clearly saves his A material for his standup act. I was very impressed by the quality of this CD as well as Mulaney’s ability to move through bits without depending on a segue between every track.
My biggest pet peeve about comedy these days is that comics have this tendency to roll over the same topics, and Mulaney doesn’t do that on this disc. It’s cliché for a reviewer to say that a performer is a “thinking man’s comedian”, but sometimes being a true thinking man’s comedian can assist in ensuring you don’t roll over those same themes. Mulaney is a lot like Demetri Martin without that sort of “I’m smarter than you” style of patronizing comedy; he assumes that the audience is just as smart as he is. “Thinking outside of the box” is yet another cliché, but would also apply here as Mulaney only shares stories about his life experiences that are very oblong and haven’t happened to almost everyone who has ever got onstage at an open mic. In other words, it’s a fucking pleasure to listen to a comedy album without hearing the comedian’s story about their trip to the DMV, or why they think gay marriage or marijuana should be legal. It’s my hope that we can all agree there shouldn’t be anymore discussion about those three things on stage unless there’s a comic that comes up with something that’s just pure brilliance. (Which won’t happen)
Here are some textual snippets from “New in Town”:
“I was once on the telephone with Blockbuster Video, which is a very old fashioned sentence…”
“Little people have never been enslaved…unless you count the Wonka factory…”
“Yes, this is going to get playfully Anti-Semitic, so just allow it to go there…”
“Jewish people don’t daydream, because folks are after them and they gotta stay sharp…”
“The plan for Irish people is ‘I’ll keep all of my emotions bottled up right here…And then one day, I’ll die’.”
“He said ‘Hey, were you at my party this weekend?’, and I said ‘No!’, you know…like a LIAR.”
The only real negative talking point about this record would be John’s voice IF you happen to not be a fan of it. (He sort of sounds a little bit like Jello Biafra) As the certified personal owner of a voice that many would (and have) consider(ed) to be annoying, I could definitely see that being the case. But after a few tracks, I found that his voice has this kind of calming Food Networkesque tone and it grew on me.
I’m not going to spoil the surprise, but towards the end of the CD there’s one particular bit that saves the album after it had gone dry for a couple of minutes. It’s about a high school party and something that was stolen, and I’ll just leave it at that. Everyone who’s ever thrown a party at their parents’ house has had something like that happen to them, but nowhere near that sadistic.
Overall rating: 8.6/10.0
As with any standup CD, there are dry moments, there are very few performers anymore that can carry a full album without there being some low points. As David Spade says “It’s called pace, people, they’re not all winners” – he’s right. Thankfully for Mulaney, he’s above sea level through the whole program. It’s a good listen, and it’s well worth the download.
Official Website: http://www.johnmulaney.com/
John’s Comedy Central Profile: http://comedians.jokes.com/john-mulaney
John on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mulaney
John on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/john.mulaney
Don’t forget to catch John’s hour-long comedy special this Saturday, January 28th at 10 EST / 9 CST on Comedy Central, and pick up the live DVD special out Tuesday the 31st from Comedy Central Home Entertainment.
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