Proof of comedian John Mulaney’s rising star power: he was unavailable to interview for this story. Who the hell is he? Well, Mulaney may not be a household name, but surely you’re familiar with his most popular character, the former Saturday Night Live Weekend Update City Correspondent, Stefon. Along with Bill Hader, who played the character, Mulaney wrote the recurring New York club scene hipster guide. He even routinely changed the cue cards to try to make Hader laugh during his scenes. Mulaney also wrote and starred in his self-titled sitcom, Mulaney, on Fox, which debuted last fall.
But more so than Mulaney, which has received so-so reviews, the comedian’s highly praised stand-up special New In Town, seems to have upped the comedian’s recognizability as of late.
Taped in 2012 when he was 29, New in Town opens with a Cosby Show-like theme song and credits. It makes sense when the comedian starts riffing on his fixation on the series, saying things like, “Nothing that I know can help you with your car ever. Unless you’re like, ‘Hey I’ve got a flat tire, does anyone here know a lot about The Cosby Show?”
That simple laugh takes on a much darker edge in light of Cosby’s current rape allegations. But that dark stuff isn’t Mulaney’s schtick — he’s happy go-lucky. Take this bit about his childhood babysitter Veronica, also from New In Town: “In my head, when I was a little kid, I thought that Veronica was like 25, 30 years old. I was just talking to my mom the other week — I found out that when I was 10, Veronica was 13. So why was she in charge? All she could do was dial the telephone a little better than I could. Thirteen when I’m 10? That’s just like hiring a slightly bigger child. That would be like if you were going out of town for the week, and you paid a horse to watch your dog.”
Mulaney uses long-form comedy, with very few one-liners. He shares anecdotes from his everyday life. Tales of his quest for anti-anxiety medication before undergoing a prostate exam, quips about his Jewish girlfriend (now wife), and his journey from heavy- to non-drinker are all fair comedic game. He’s smart. He turns his own jokes into similes later on: “We were like dogs without horses, we were running wild!”
But even though he’s gaining attention, his youth and youthful look is not lost on him, as he says in the comedy special. “That surprises a lot of audiences, because I don’t look like someone who used to do anything. I look like I was just sitting in a room, in a chair eating saltines for like 28 years and then I walked right out here.”