Every time I finish watching one of John Mulaney’s comedy specials, I feel like I just completed an entire week's worth of ab workouts. I’ve watched a handful of comedians, all of whom are really funny … just not John Mulaney funny. He has the most memorable sketches with quotes that are applicable to everyday scenarios.
I challenged myself to rank his three shows, “The Top Part,” “New in Town” and “The Comeback Kid” from my least favorite to my favorite. I would like to emphasize the word “challenged” because it wasn’t easy by any means. Here’s why: All of John Mulaney’s stand-up involves storytelling. He has unlimited currency when it comes to stories. It’s not just the content of the stories themselves; it’s the way that he delivers the punch lines and the inflection he uses when he speaks. What this ranking came down to wasn’t just which stories were my favorite, but the number of favorite stories per show.
3. “The Top Part”
After re-watching every show, I decided that this is my least favorite. I use the term “least favorite” very loosely here because “The Top Part” is hilarious! One of my all-time favorite sketches of his closes the show. He tells a story of the “best meal of his life.” It all happened at a diner in Chicago called, The Salt and Pepper Diner. He was 12, and he and his friend decided to buy 21 plays of Tom Jones’ “What’s New Pussycat” on the jukebox in the restaurant. The rest of the story is about people’s reactions to hearing the song over and over again. Just when you think the story can’t get any funnier, it does. While this sketch is one of my favorites, the rest of the show was more, “a little more air just came out of my nose than usual funny” as opposed to laugh out loud funny.
2. “New In Town”
I went back and forth between this and “Comeback Kid” a few times until finally coming to this conclusion. I felt that a couple of the topics he discusses in this show aren’t as funny compared to “Comeback Kid.” “New in Town” has another one of my all-time favorite sketches about Delta Airlines. Mulaney starts a sketch with the sentence, “I don’t want to name a real airline so I’ll make up some garbage airline — let’s call it ‘Delta Airlines.’” He then proceeds to talk about an exaggerated experience of flying Delta, taking a dig at how unhelpful they are. “I went to the Delta help desk, which is an oxymoron.” It will have you in stitches. He ends with a story about the time he went to the doctor to receive Xanax because someone he knew mentioned, “sometimes I get nervous on airplanes,” and his doctor gave him some at the drop of a hat. Mulaney, on the other hand, explains his horrifying experience where he ends up leaving the doctor with a prostate exam and no xanax whatsoever.
1. Comeback Kid
I can’t say enough good things about this one. There’s never a silent moment when watching it, and I think it has to do with each story he tells being unique and equally as funny. To sum up “The Comeback Kid,” Mulaney discusses his take on married life, his relationship with his lawyer parents and the tale of meeting former president Bill Clinton. There are so many other stories thrown into the mix about his somewhat hostile feelings toward babies, purchasing his first house and more. Each story from this show is just as funny as the next. The tale of meeting Clinton at age 12 is the perfect way to close his show because it ties into all of the stories he tells about his unsympathetic father. After meeting Clinton, Mulaney comes home and tells his father that he’s going to be a Democrat and vote for Clinton, to which his father responds, “You have the moral backbone of a chocolate éclair.” This is one of those quotes that’s perfect to use in everyday life.
I highly recommend checking his shows out on Netflix and Spotify and seeing if his sense of humor matches yours, because I can almost guarantee you’re going to watch him, love him and start showing him to all your friends.
Ali Gips is a junior media arts and design and communication studies double major. Contact Ali firstname.lastname@example.org.