Kathryn Lindsay
November 24, 2014 10:43 am

Maybe it’s the English major in me, but I believe that good stand-up comedy is as simple as telling a really, really good (and obviously hilarious) story. No offense needed, no double entendres, no lists of one-liners, just a beginning, middle, and end. It should roll of the tongue like good dinner conversation, and, in the same vein, I want to feel like we are sitting across the table from one another sharing the best laugh — not in an auditorium.

John Mulaney delivered and delivers just that — and he does it without offending; a feat in modern comedy. You may know Mulaney from his SNL writing (and sometimes performing) days, or his sitcom Mulaney. But it’s his newest stand-up tour, “John Mulaney,” currently making the rounds in the U.S. that we’ve come to talk about today. I caught the show in Columbus, Ohio, this past Friday, and left feeling like I had just been to the world’s best party.

Mulaney’s stand up is pure, user-friendly, and relatively PG-13 comedy. He never borders on the offensive and he steers away from the distasteful. Instead, he proves that you don’t need to make people feel uncomfortable to make them laugh.

I first fell for John Mulaney after watching his comedy special, “New In Town.” When I found out he was the creator behind SNL’s “Stefon,” I was convinced of his comedy genius status. Basically once he starts, I never want him to stop talking.

His live show was just as side-splitting as “New In Town,” and it was also genuinely heartwarming. Mulaney takes breaks from hilarious stories about family and marriage to talk genuinely about just how much he loves his dog.

What I think I love most about Mulaney is the fact that he stands with, what sometimes feels like a dwindling number of comedians, who don’t fall back on offensive tropes and stereotypes — especially when it comes to jokes about women.

Mulaney speaks candidly about his recent marriage. For most comedians, that would be ripe time to throw in a “ball and chain” reference capitalizing on just how much marriage sucks for guys. Instead, Mulaney does the opposite. Taking on the whole “why buy a cow when the milk is free?” question, Mulaney gives a plain and simple answer. “Why buy the cow?” he asks. “Because you love her.”

This isn’t to say he gets mushy or trite — his awkward but quick humor is consistent throughout. Of course he jokes about arguing and the overblown inconveniences of a wedding, but this is simply because couples argue and weddings can get CRAZY. His laughs come from a place of smarts, not from anywhere offensive or cheap.

Like Mike Birbiglia, Mulaney tells a good story. Like Louis C.K., he addresses problematic issues. Like Chelsea Peretti, he is just plain ridiculous. But these comparisons are only for reference. Mulaney is in a league of his own when it comes to stand-up. He’s smart, witty, and self aware. He points out the ridiculous truths in every day life and he does it while making you feel entirely comfortable. To me, that’s good comedy.

John Mulaney will be on tour into early next year. Check out dates here, and snap up some tix!

[Image via.]

Advertisement