The thing I love about John Mulaney’s New in Town is that it’s full of stories, scenes, and characters (which makes sense, Mulaney being a writer for Saturday Night Live). The album presents characters and events that catch my attention. If I’m not laughing, then I’m definitely intrigued.
We get sketches of Mulaney as a child, a nervous boy who grew up in a courtroom-like home with two lawyers for parents. He remembers fearing the quicksand of cartoons and crushing on his babysitter. We hear about the kids in grade school who used to call him “Chinaman,” even though he’s not Asian American.
Later on, we get a story about Mulaney, the self-proclaimed terrible driver, trying to correct a wrong turn on a Texas highway. In the bit, he compares his driving skills to that of a “100 year-old blind dog whose texting while driving and drinking a smoothie.” It’s hard not to laugh at that image. On that particular track, I hear the familiar delivery style of Louis C.K., not to mention the self-depreciating sense of humor that we’ve come to know and love from that same man. I think this is awesome though; there’s nothing wrong with learning from the great ones to get your own thoughts across, if this was Mulaney’s intention.
On my personal favorite track, “The One Thing You Can’t Replace,” listen to a woman in the audience say “oh my God” when Mulaney tells us about a kid in high school who took a sh*t on Mr. MacNamara’s computer. By the end of the bit, you’ll admire Mulaney. This is storytelling, people.
John’s own interest in characters and stories is apparent through his several references to television shows and movies. Though he says he knows nothing about cars, he claims to know a lot about The Cosby Show, and I believe him. He mentions watching cartoons as a kid, references Ice-T’s character on Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and underlines the stupid premise behind Home Alone 2.
Without a doubt, Mulaney has something for everyone here, even Def Jam comics. Full of great stories and comic prowess, New in Town will be in my top three comedy albums of 2012 so I highly recommend you pick it up. You can also get the special on DVD which boasts perhaps the best bonus commentary as Mulaney and his friend and comedians Anthony Jeselnik and Dan Mintz watch the special together.
Here are a few thoughts among many to take away from New in Town:
- “If you’re comparing the badness of two words and you won’t even say one of them [the n-word], that’s the worse word.”
- “It’s really easy not to go to things. It is so much easier not to do things than to do them. That you would do anything is totally remarkable.”
- “Reading the New York Post is like talking to someone who heard the news and now they’re trying to give you the gist.”
- The premise of Home Alone 2 is stupid because the streets in New York City are numbered.
- The female version of Ocean’s Eleven wouldn’t work; “two would keep breaking off to talk shit about the other nine.”