This week, I will be reviewing John Mulaney’s 2012 comedy special: New in Town. This special was the first piece of work I had viewed from Mulaney, so I had no expectations going in.
I happened to enjoy the special, but ironically, there wasn’t anything special about it. Mulaney was very calm and had very PG humor, which was a refresher from what I usually watch.
Mulaney spent the first half of the show just insulting himself, which I believe to be a very good tactic, as the audience gets to know you through self-directed jokes which don’t attack anyone else.
That brings me to my next point. I enjoyed how Mulaney never attacked a specific person, by name, and avoided any unnecessary awkwardness with insulting jokes.
However, the disadvantage of using these techniques is that Mulaney did not take any risks when it came to big jokes. He did not even get close to toeing the line of being offensive once.
The thing with Mulaney is that his style is very moderate: he doesn’t ever get really loud and aggressive, which for most of a show is what I want, but every comedian needs a few lines a show where they really do something memorable. It actually got to the point where I fell asleep watching the special because of how little originality the jokes had.
This is the type of special which I would listen to while doing something else. It produces a quick chuckle but not a big whole-hearted laugh. Mulaney does have a few trademarks, like how he finishes a lot of jokes in the same manner and his consistency.
His consistency with jokes undoubtedly made his shows feel kind of predictable, which is not always a bad thing, but does make for some dull moments in the special when the jokes don’t seem distinct enough.
Mulaney was very young at the time and he has grown a lot since then, but based on this special, he isn’t on my personal short list of best comedians.
I really don’t understand why I have found my last three reviews to have leaned more on the negative side.
Usually, I find everything funny so why is it so hard for comedians nowadays to find the right formula? Like why doesn’t Mulaney just take some risks? It feels like he’s performing comedy for people who are afraid of everything.
It’s just so frustrating seeing Mulaney have so much potential to be funny. His special really fell flat because he wasn’t trying to step out of his comfort zone at all. This is only one special, but I feel comedians are pretty consistent throughout all their performances, with small changes as they mature.
I believe with this special, Mulaney has not even begun to scratch the surface on his comedic potential, and for that reason I give this special two out of five stars.
I would recommend viewing this if you are the type of person that is scared of everything and hate leaving your comfort zone, because that is the type of people who will enjoy Mulaney’s fine, lowkey-boring comedic special.