John Mulaney’s ‘Everybody’s in L.A.’ Is Bizarro Comedic Genius

Netflix
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I had no idea what to expect when I tuned into the first episode of John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in L.A. on Friday night, but by the end, I emerged convinced that Netflix needs to give this man his own talk show. This bizarre, free-wheeling experiment in live streaming feels like the apotheosis of Mulaney’s comedic evolution. As guest Jerry Seinfeld put it, “This is the weirdest show I have ever been on in my life.”

Everybody’s in L.A. is a six-part comedy special debuting as part of Netflix Is a Joke Fest. The first episode premiered Friday, and the subsequent five will debut Monday through Friday at 10 p.m. ET. Episodes will feature a mix of live work from Mulaney, alongside pre-taped interstitial skits. They’ll each also have a theme—in this week’s case, “Coyotes.”

Aesthetically, the vibe here is low-budget morning show—a living room set that, as Mulaney put it, “looks like the kind of house where you’d spend a half hour trying to connect the Sonos.” And thematically? Anything goes.

Friday’s installment opened with a quote from Joan Didion’s ode to California, Where I Was From: “Madness, it became convenient to believe quite early on, came with the territory, on the order of earthquakes.” The opening credits feature shots of motorcycles, repairmen on power lines, a Minions billboard, and a coyote. Wang Chung’s “To Live and Die in L.A.” appropriately plays in the background.

Mulaney is back in his traditional suit for this show, and joined by an extremely game announcer, Richard Kind. “We’re only doing six episodes,” Mulaney quipped, “so this show will never find its groove... Whatever happens, we’re done May 10, which is awesome, because there is nothing I like more than being done.”

As always, Mulaney’s delivery is as precisely calibrated as they come. Just listening to the sounds of the words as they come out of his mouth is enough to elicit a laugh, and better yet, they’re all funny. Multiple times, Mulaney hinted at his own celebrity persona—“Why even do this show?” he wondered aloud. “I don’t know! But it gives me something to do, and structure is key for me”—but more than anything, he made clear on Friday night, this is a series about the peculiarities of Los Angeles.

The approach here is ingeniously frenetic. We start with a monologue from Mulaney, who helpfully informs us that “the city of Los Angeles was officially founded in 1842 as a place for improv students to go hiking.” There’s a map for comedic effect, as he outlines the eccentricities of certain areas. “Beverly Hills is fancy-ish,” he says. “It’s expensive in the way that the things DJ Khaled wears are expensive, but they don’t fill you with envy.”

From there, we flit from segment to segment, each one building on the comedic energy of the last. First, there’s a panel interview with Jerry Seinfeld and Citizens for L.A. Wildlife advocate Tony Tucci—whose lower third informs us that he’s “Not Related to Stanley.” (Predictably, this show has a lot of fun with its lower thirds.) While Mulaney straightforwardly interviewed Tucci, he and Seinfeld took turns playing with his responses. When he suggested folks could use airhorns to scare away coyotes, Seinfeld didn’t miss a beat before searching his pockets. “What did I do with my airhorn?”

Throughout the episode, Mulaney welcomed viewers to call into a number that flashed across the screen early on and share coyote stories. This yielded some truly shocking anecdotes, including one about a coyote home invasion that stunned the entire panel—Mulaney, Tucci, and Seinfeld—into silence. Did you know that coyotes can apparently get into second-floor apartments? I certainly did not! Only Mulaney found the presence of mind to ask the important question: “Elevator or walk-up?”

Friday’s episode did feature a couple of segments that deviated from the coyote theme. Perhaps the best was a multi-part house tour segment that put HGTV’s funniest House Hunters moments to shame.

Mulaney and fellow comedians Natasha Leggero, Chelsea Peretti, Stavros Halkias, and Earthquake looked at a house in the L.A. neighborhood Van Nuys priced at over $1 million, and as one might imagine, they made an absolute meal out of examining every room. Top features included the can crusher in the laundry room, the ceiling fan cords (three of which Mulaney accidentally broke by pulling too hard), and a bedroom that Leggero suspects has served as a set for some “Amish porn.”

What could be a more natural follow-up to this than an interview with Ray J? This might’ve been the weakest segment of the night—the conversation was more meandering than funny—but the unpredictable energy was in keeping with the rest of the night. Perhaps revealing: Ray J. was also wearing a pin emblazoned with six words: coyotes, palm trees, helicopters, ghosts, earthquakes, and L.A. Could this be a clue as to what future episodes might cover? We’ll have to tune in Monday to find out!

And honestly, why wouldn’t we? Everybody’s in L.A. is easily the funniest thing I’ve seen on Netflix in years—and I would have said that even before Will Ferrell showed up as a violent heckler in a baby pink blazer. Oh—and did I mention that St. Vincent showed up to play her song “Flea”?

We already knew what Mulaney could do on a stand-up stage, and John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch showed off the comedian’s weirder side. Everybody’s in L.A. feels like another high-concept highwire act that could pay off even better. Mulaney might love being done, but if this special hits with audiences just right, it could easily work as a more long-term project. This viewer, at least, is very ready to hear more about palm trees, ghosts, and whatever else Mulaney wants to unpack.

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