Before we discuss John Mulaney, the fictional protagonist of Fox’s new comedy Mulaney, allow me to confess something about John Mulaney, the real-life comedian: I am a huge fan of his pre-sitcom work.
Ever since I saw him do a bit about Girl Scout cookies on Saturday Night Live — back when he wrote for the show and introduced us to Stefon, the gift that keeps on giving — I was hooked. I know his stand-up specials backwards and forwards (and regularly quote them). Needless to say, I was thrilled when Mulaney finally landed his own sitcom.
The sitcom itself, though… Well, I’ll let you make the final call on Mulaney‘s series premiere.
In Sunday’s half-hour pilot, the titular comedian lands a writing job with game show host Lou Cannon (comedy vet Martin Short), who is a huge fan of all things Lou Cannon-related. He relies on virtual assistant Donna a bit too much, and even after he hires John to write jokes for his game show, he doesn’t seem to care much about John’s material (or the hours John spent writing it).
Lou’s ego really becomes a problem when he bails on a charity walk-a-thon, an event where John was supposed to be his opening act. (Though Lou’s admirers seem perfectly content to take a picture with his cardboard likeness, so it’s sort of a win, right?) After getting some sage advice from his across-the-hall neighbor, Oscar (Friends‘ Elliott Gould), John works up the courage to quit his gig with Lou — until he realizes that Lou has, in fact, planned to use some of John’s jokes during the game show’s next taping. And John is getting paid via money cannon. Who could ask for anything more?
Rounding out the ensemble are John’s impulsive roommate Jane (played by fellow SNL alum Nasim Pedrad, who, despite being a weak link on NBC’s sketch show, is one of Mulaney‘s stronger players), comedian Motif (relative newcomer Seaton Smith) and drug dealer Andre (The Inbetweeners‘ Zack Pearlman).
Many of the jokes featured in Mulaney‘s premiere episode are pulled directly from the star’s previous stand-up routines, which is unfortunate for existing fans who were hoping for fresh material. If you’ve seen or heard Mulaney’s work before, you already know the prostate-exam-for-Xanax bit, and the Seinfeld-esque routines that John performs in his apartment are similarly recycled.
But the pilot does include a few genuinely funny moments — I particularly enjoyed Jane’s Christian Bale/Katherine Heigl comparison. The only problem? With so many fall comedies jockeying for first place, the standout moments in Mulaney‘s premiere episode may not be enough.
What’s your take on Mulaney? Did the premiere have you rolling in the aisles? Grade the episode via our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!