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John Mulaney disappoints with new sitcom

| Tuesday, October 7, 2014

JohnMulaney_WEBEMILY DANAHER | The Observer
Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of John Mulaney. His fresh, clean-cut humor in both his work with SNL and in his standup specials has been a bright light in comedy for the past couple of years. However, the premier of John Mulaney’s new self-titled series has left most fans bitterly disappointed, myself included. “Mulaney” is a multi-camera show following the pseudo life of an up-and-coming Mulaney, who not only stars in the show but also writes and executive produces.

Mulaney, living with two roommates in New York City, struggles with the shortcomings of a career in comedy. Shot in front of a live studio audience and coupled with an oh-so-cheesy laugh reel, the show falls noticeably short. Rooted in disappointment from the get-go, “Mulaney” was originally developed by NBC and was later dropped, only for Fox to mistakenly revive it earlier this year.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that the show boasts an impressive cast, yet they are all equally stale. Former SNL actress, Nasim Pedrad, plays the wild yet caring roommate, Jane. Although Pedrad does a good job at breathing a shred of life into the show. Yet, like most of her counterparts in the series, she comes off as simply a hollow manifestation of Mulaney’s jokes. Mulaney’s other in-show roommate, played by Seaton Smith, is simply not funny, and neither is Zack Pearlman, who plays the friendly drug dealer. Both characters’ utter lack of actual acting is tremendously apparent. Rounding out the cast are the veteran actors Martin Short and Elliot Gould, who also fall victim to the lifeless writing plaguing the show.

One of my favorite standup bits of all time is Mulaney’s “Xanax Story” — if you want a real taste of Mulaney’s comedy, YouTube it. Yet, as the show’s first scene, the bit’s translation to live action was lacking — a perfect metaphor for why “Mulaney” is a miss. And although John Mulaney’s standup is certainly a strong point for the show, almost none was fresh. Just about every joke came from standup Mulaney has produced over the years.

After hearing the blurry details about “Mulaney” a while back, I was desperately hoping for the next “Seinfeld.” The pieces seemed to fit: a great standup comic, a witty cast and a memorable last name. Unfortunately though, it seems my generation will have to make do with old “Seinfeld” reruns. The liberty and organic nature of “Seinfeld,” which made the show so iconic, is replaced with forced jokes and bad acting in “Mulaney.” Though both shows begin with a bit of standup and are titled after the front man, the comparisons end there.

As CBS continues to sweep up the number one network spot year after year, with their multi-cam sitcoms smash hits, “The Big Bang,” “Two Broke Girls” and “How I Met Your Mother” (R.I.P), it is clear why FOX would wish to emulate. However, “Mulaney” is just not the right answer. If FOX has any hope of attracting some of CBS’ loyal viewers, the formula must be drastically different. Although not necessarily critically acclaimed, every CBS sitcom has a clear direction and is comfortable in its nature. The direction for “Mulaney” is very unclear and in many instances tries to hard to be something it just isn’t.

What is so unfortunate is that I really want Mulaney to have a turn in front of the camera for a change; he of all people deserves it. Yet, with a dearth of solid comedians nowadays, we really can’t afford another loss. So for the good of both your Sunday night homework productivity and John Mulaney’s future comedy endeavors, go ahead and skip “Mulaney.”

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About Adam Ramos

Adam is studying international economics in the class of 2018. He hails from beautiful New Jersey and says "draw" instead of "drawer."

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