Everybody’s in LA, review: John Mulaney tries – and fails – to revive the late-night talk show

Comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll onstage at Netflix's Is a Joke festival in LA
Comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll onstage at Netflix's Is a Joke festival in LA - Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images North America
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Netflix is no stranger to bizarre and surreal content – remember that movie where Sandra Bullock repelled an alien invasion by wearing a blindfold? But even by the streamer’s usual standards, John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in LA is quite bonkers. It’s a live broadcast going out at 3am (UK time), hosted by the American stand-up best known for a funny spot at this year’s Oscars and a long-running battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

It is also an attempt to revive the moribund US talk show format – even though US talk shows rarely air live. Oh, and it is a love letter to LA, delivered by the Chicago-born Mulaney, who became famous starring in New York comedy institution Saturday Night Live.

Did Netflix chuck a bucketful of ideas at a wall and see what would stick? That’s the impression given by a breezy yet topsy-turvy undertaking that relies on Mulaney’s slickness and charisma to stay afloat.

Smooth, classy, debonair – and that’s just his hair. “We are doing six episodes,” he says in an opening monologue as glossy as his quiff. “So this show will never hit its groove”.

He’s right. Everybody’s in LA never threatens to get into its stride in an eccentric opening instalment, which has, as its loose theme, the Southern California megapolis’s complicated relationship with its coyotes. Or, as Mulaney describes them, “the idea of a dog… on crack cocaine”.

His guests include Will Ferrell pretending to be a cantankerous music producer (why?) and a disagreeable Jerry Seinfeld, plugging his dire Netflix movie about the invention of Pop-Tarts.

Seinfeld, at 70, is loping towards his grumpy old man phase. “It does feel like a guy coming out of rehab would do a show like this,” he tells Mulaney – a close-to-the-bone reference to the treatment his fellow comic received for alcohol and cocaine dependence in 2020.

The episode is padded out with pre-recorded segments. They include a never-ending skit in which Mulaney and comedian friends visit a house that’s up for sale. It’s like the worst ever Location, Location, Location – and there isn’t even the thrill of watching Kirstie Allsopp trying not to lose her temper on the phone with an estate agent or slipping an extra syllable into “vendor”.

Back in the studio, Mulaney natters to musician and entrepreneur Ray J – or, as the host puts it, “a black Forrest Gump” – though he insists comparing his guest to Tom Hanks’s amiable naif isn’t intended as an insult. The broadcast ends with a performance by indie rocker St Vincent: a chilly piece of Bowie-esque art-pop that is just about worth staying up until 4am for.

Mulaney is a charming and competent anchor, with a nicely deadpan style. It’s just as well he’s so good at what he does. Helmed by a less astute presenter, Everybody’s in LA might have been a disaster. Instead, it’s a rickety curio recommended strictly for those interested in coyotes, grumpy comedians or Americans with outstanding hair.


John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in LA is on Netflix at 3am (BST) from Tuesday to Saturday; episode one is available now

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