Warning: Spoiler Alert
“I got to the stage, and it was a lot like this. Except not at all. It was three 2×4’s lying in dirt. I got up on the stage and began to perform standup comedy. And they didn’t like it at all. And one gentleman from the back of the camp ground yelled, and I’m quoting, excuse me sir, I think I speak for everyone here when I say that we would enjoy silence more than the sound of your voice.”
Jane wakes up suddenly, a nightmare about a shopping montage. After a little small talk about the length of movies, John asks about her latest boyfriend attempt named Price, a hedge fund investor. It’s not going well, but the resounding consensus is that maybe Jane should start acting more lady like. A concept that will take a little research. Luckily, Oscar shows up (at the smell of yogurt , believe it or not) and he’s been brushing up on 1950s etiquette.
John and Lou discuss nothing important in Lou’s office (pizza ovens and chicken coups). They both charge in on the subject of Lou’s role in an old movie called “French Toast”. Which leads into Lou offering John ‘an opportunity’ to be one of the roasters on Lou’s Celebrity Roast. John is excited when Lou offers to call John’s mother to give her the news. Then before John can say a word, Lou tells John’s mother in a deep creepy voice that, “I’m in your house and I’m going to kill you”.
Oscar continues to aid Jane in her pursuit to be more lady like. The problem is that Oscar is trying transform Jane into a ‘lady of the 50s’. Anyone familiar with this period of history and how it pertains to what was expected of women will agree, this is not something suited for Jane.
Oscar: And I wouldn’t mind seeing you in some ‘period’ attire
Jane: Period attire? You mean like pajama pants and my giant hoodie?
Amidst the excitement surrounding John’s opportunity to roast Lou, Andre suggests that maybe it’s not smart to roast his boss. Especially since his boss is Lou Cannon. Suddenly, Oscar runs in to introduce the new Jane. He even changes her name to ‘Jane Monroe’ for effect. She looks exactly the same but speaks with a voice over inflection, sits properly, and attempts to give a hoot about whatever the boys are talking about. In this case standup comedy. The pain is visible on her face. She struggles through it until John says something he knows will make her crack.
John: You know Jane, I never told this to anybody, but… I think I could be the next Johnny Carson but also do movies.
Jane (cackling out of character): EW! WHAT!? John you’ll be lucky if you’re Carson Daily and you GO to the movies.
Lou enters the You Guessed It set for his celebrity roast. Such roasters include The Rock, Jason Priestly, and a polite text message from Tom Hanks. It is a montage of celebrities that aren’t actually there, but their presence is assumed. Next is John and he’s having second thoughts about the mean-ness of his jokes. They don’t even show the jokes. All you hear is, “Lou Cannon is so old…” and then John and Motif in their apartment talking about how bad it went with Lou yelling at John in the distance while they watch the show from their living room.
Motif and John brainstorm what went wrong and discover that Lou is exceedingly self-conscious about his age, especially when compared to John. Then Oscar again introduces the new Jane. This time she looks the part. She’s ready for her date with Price. Then she gets a text message about going to see a three-hour documentary on impoverished people she doesn’t care about. The next line of logic is to get ‘study pills’ from Andre so she won’t fall asleep during the movie. Naturally, Andre was on the other side of the door anyway.
With Andre and Jane out of the room, John asks for Oscar’s help. Oscar says he just needs to show his boss a gesture that re-establishes the balance of power. Then hands John the book. John thumbs through the book and says something that seems harmless enough until he remembers that Motif is standing next to him, and that Motif is still a black man.
John (looking in the book): Man, life was so much better in the 50s.
(Motif looks up at son disapprovingly, then John realizes his mistake)
John: No-ooo it wasn’t.
John lies to Lou’s assistant to convince Lou to show up at John’s apartment. After realizing this residence was not the rub ‘n tug, Lou walks right in. It seems like just letting Lou in the apartment to see how John and two roommates live was ‘gesture’ enough. “You live like a Ninja Turtle”. Lou charges in with a relative impromptu roast of John in his own living room. Finally he convinces John to give him a tour of the apartment. John doesn’t even get to finish the line, this is our kitchen, before Lou starts laughing uncontrollably.
There is a short black and white video montage of Jane on her date being excessively lady like. During the movie, she starts to doze off and then takes more of Andre’s study pills. Cut to Motif, John and Oscar sitting on John’s couch (each eating yogurt) when Jane storms in wearing a beach towel around her waist.
John (said in a sing-song fashion): How was your da-ate?
Jane (matching his inflection): I crapped my ti-iights…
Oscar chimes in that crapping your tights is not very lady like. Jane then charges in with a diatribe about how little she cares about changing herself to impress a man. This hurts Oscar’s feelings slightly and suggests they all just ‘try a little’.
(Oscar slowly saunters out of the apartment)
John: Thanks Oscar…
Oscar: You’re welcome.
John, Motif and Jane (in unison): My pleasure to be welcomed.
(Oscar turns and give a satisfied grin)
The final scene shows outtakes from Lou Cannon’s role in the movie “French Toast”. Slightly painful to watch.
. . .
Editorial Note: I have made no attempts to hide my affection for John Mulaney’s brand of comedy. I think if he’s not the best (relatively) new comic, then his at worst in the top 3. I celebrate everything he’s done to this point. I have wanted this show to be successful from the start and I have not wavered. However, in my steadfast support, I had found myself wondering ‘when is Fox going to pull the plug’? Not because I think it is not good enough, but because Fox has given us every indication that they don’t think it’s good enough. Despite the fact they put it on Sunday nights forcing it to go head to head against Sunday Night Football for much of the NFL season and shows like Homeland. This has been an impossible task, and the cast of Mulaney are still standing.
I think it’s important to understand that the Mulaney sitcom is exactly what it’s supposed to be. It is a throwback to the sitcoms most of us grew up with. Each week it tells a story in a humorous way that fits the structure of a sitcom. Tie in some of Mulaney’s original material and the show is exactly what it’s supposed to be. However, we live in a DVR, instant gratification, television era. Sitcoms don’t have set pieces. Sitcoms don’t spend episode after episode to show us a massive reveal. Viewers were looking for Modern Family or The Big Bang Theory and that is not what this is. However, tonight’s episode may have found a new process that bridges the gap between what the show is and what the masses hoped it’d be.
This episode “French Roast” mixed things up a bit and the result was impressive. As one of the bigger John Mulaney fans, I’ve found this show to typically be ‘tee-hee’ funny. Yes it’s funny, it’s clever, it’s witty. But for me, it’s never been laugh out loud funny. I never needed it to be. Tonight though, I found myself laughing out loud. To the extent that my wife would walk in and ask, “what’s so funny”. If the original approach to this show wasn’t good enough for the network, then maybe this new formula will be acceptable and we can stop asking “when is Fox going to pull the plug?”
Same John Mulaney + More Oscar + More Jane + More Andre – less Lou