Tuesday, October 14, 2014
John Mulaney is a funny guy. He's been writing for SNL for a long time, he's got a very promising stand-up special under his belt, and he's unique. Also, he cannot write a sit-com to save his life.
This is a bad pilot. This is a really really bad pilot. It is filled with lazy and sometimes upsetting stereotypes (the bad black comedian, the crazy girl), and gives far too much screen time to Martin Short. It makes me wonder if you, John Mulaney, are a talented stand-up comedian, why make a sitcom? If you have funny jokes to tell us, why not just tell us those jokes instead of putting them in the mouth of a bunch of overacting stereotypes.
See, to me, stand-up comedy is comedy in its purest. You tell us a joke, and we laugh. And if that's all you want to do, keep doing stand-up. If you want to tell stories, then you go into sitcoms. But it doesn't seem like Mulaney wants to tell any stories at all. The pilot is minimally about a comedian feeling undervalued at his new job, but the plot has no stakes, the characters have no real conflict. No one hurts or heals. No one feels anything complex. Everyone just stands at their marks and says year-and-a-half-old John Mulaney jokes.
When trying to figure out why this was so bad, I remembered Louie C.K.'s first sitcom, Lucky Louie. It was a multicam, blandly-lit, by-the-books sitcom. It's crazy to think that the guy behind Lucky Louie went on to eventually produce Louie, which is the greatest sitcom ever made.
But Mulaney isn't even as good as Lucky Louie. Even in the confines of the multicam, Louie C.K. had something to say, something about frustration and loneliness. As a comedian, Louie C.K. was able to talk about feeling pathetic and worthless, but for the first time, he was able to show you these feelings. He was able to perform. Mulaney has no point, nothing interesting to say, and on top of that, John Mulaney himself seems entirely unwilling, or unable to perform. He embodies nothing except whatever joke he is currently telling.