The new Netflix special starring George St. Geegland (John Mulaney) and Gil Faizon (Nick Kroll) is a shoe-in for the Tony Award for Choreography During a Limited Run Vanity Project. These two comedians take to the stage in the Lyceum Theater to present their lost Broadway play to the world.
For a Netflix special that some might not have been aware was even being made, the expectations for this comedy special were surprisingly high. Fans of the comedians that have followed them through the years can attest to the fact that these characters are already highly developed and people who the audience is familiar with. After appearances on Conan, Late Night With Seth Meyers, Comedy Bang Bang, and most notably on The Nick Kroll Show, one would set the bar relatively high for a comedic performance based around this duo.
It is safe to say that the Geegland/Faizon combo does not disappoint in this hour and forty-five minute performance. The two have a natural presence on stage as they come out and give the audience a brief history on themselves. Faizon even demonstrates some of his voice acting capabilities. After being caught up on their personal histories the audience is treated to a quick demonstration of some common theater tropes, the one sided phone call, coughing to show illness, and the one lined monologue. A diverse presentation is given as Geegland and Faizon both give demonstrations of these staples of the theater.
Stepping out of character and focusing on the comedians and how their roles are executed. Kroll and Mulaney are as flawless as their characters think they are. The timing is on point, Mulaney especially never misses a beat when it comes to delivery. This show is not fully scripted though it is evident that plenty of rehearsal and pre-production went into the show. When you combine scripting and improvisation it can make room for simple mistakes. Mulaney delivers his lines and hits his cues like they are a habit. Kroll is not to be outdone either, for each moment that Mulaney times perfectly, there is a moment of spontaneity thrown in by Kroll. There are a few moments throughout the play where Kroll seems to break character just a little bit, giving way to a few self-indulgent laughs, but all of these moments occur during times when improvisation is being used. It is hard to blame a comedian for laughing at a well-timed joke that deviates from the script. (See the end of Kroll’s “Rootbeer” monologue for reference.)
It is difficult to dive into many aspects of the play without spoiling the comedy. The jokes come fast and furious in this play and as a viewer it will be required of you to pay close attention. Almost every line is meant to get a laugh out of you, which can in some ways be seen as a drawback. Comedy shows are meant to full of laughter, but with little recovery times between jokes it is easy to miss something. The show is fortunate that it is funny enough to warrant a couple more viewings. The fact that it is so funny that the main complaint of this article is “I might have missed a few jokes” is a good one. What can be said about the play itself is that no rock is left unturned. They not only deliver their lines, they deliver the stage directions, and will have asides with audience to let them know what inspired certain parts throughout the play. This full experience creates many memorable moments along with the growing tension between Geegland and Faizon.
This paragraph should be prefaced with a spoiler warning as if you are a fan of surprise guests you may want to close your eyes and skip this part. A regular segment that appeared on the Kroll Show was “Too Much Tuna” in which Geegland and Faizon would prank random people by forcing them to divulge in a sandwich with, you guessed it, too much tuna. In this format it takes the shape of a talk show with a special guest who is expected to eat a tuna-filled sandwich, the guest in this scenario being Steve Martin. Martin’s appearance serves as another off the cuff scenario. This segment doesn’t appear to be heavily scripted, if it is even scripted at all. It takes on a genuine talk show vibe and Martin seems like he is having a genuine fun time up on stage. The astute viewer may also note a glimpse of Matthew Broderick in the show (sarcasm you will understand after watching the show).
There is not much else to say about the performance the does not spoil the comedy for you. To conclude, this play features stellar performances and choreography from both Mulaney and Kroll. It almost feels like watching two shows at once. The viewer experiences the comedy of the play as well as the comedy of the characters putting on the play. Reflecting on what was said earlier it doesn’t seem to matter where you set the bar as far as your expectations of this show goes. It is bound to impress and make you laugh all the way throughout.
Oh, Hello on Broadway is streaming on Netflix now.