Mulaney

Courtesy of FOX

Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“I used to drink and black out. That surprises a lot of audiences because I don’t look like someone who used to do anything.

John and his roommates face a new headache. Bedbugs. While packing stuff up, Motif stumbles upon a box of old photos of John and Jane. Both drastically different than they are now. John partied too hard (actually pretty in line with details of John’s actual life, or so he’d have you believe from his standup) and Jane was naive and had an ‘eyebrow situation’. Oh and she still went with her Iranian name, “Gagoosh”.

John and Motif exit their apartment to find Oscar doing the same thing, and for the same reason. John has this great idea to bring friends and stay at Lou Cannon’s place while he’s out. This way they can party and connect with the college version of himself. John invites Oscar who gladly accepts. Then reacts even more pleased when John references partying like he was in college.

While Jane frets about forgetting her flat-iron and other such tools used to keep her ‘eyebrow situation’ in check, Oscar suggests that going onto Lou’s roof would be a bad idea on hallucinogens. Clearly, Oscar misunderstood just how crazy John was planning on getting. Oscar put peyote in the tea. John fires into a pre-trip flashback about a bad experience with acid in college. Short version is that apparently he visualized a Reggie Watts looking zombie chasing him down.

To distract from the onset of peyote, Oscar suggests they put on a Motown record and water plants. Which they do. And don’t look too unlike the Peanuts gang dancing to Schroder’s music in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Everything seems to be calming down, when Lou comes home unannounced. With Oscar’s help, this overreach on John’s part became an impromptu surprise birthday party for Lou. Even if they just thought of it.

Side note. This has to be filed under “I get why”, but the inconsistencies in the timeline are starting to get annoying. My understanding of the situation was that after the first episode or two, FOX freaked out over the ratings. News flash FOX, don’t put a first time sitcom in prime time on a Sunday. Mulaney spent the first 10 episodes or so competing with Homeland and Sunday Night Football. A lead in from Seinfeld would not have overshadowed those two juggernauts. So then they decided to shuffle the episode order to put episodes they liked better up front. FOX and NBC being more worried than most about instant gratification for ratings. Problem is now details seem intentionally and awkwardly out-of-place.

When John needs their help the most, his friends are preoccupied with their own issues. Motif can’t stop calling ‘Rodeo’ to tell her he loves her even though he doesn’t. And Jane is trying to turn Lou’s heated toilet seat into a flat-iron. Meanwhile the clock is ticking on John’s sanity. Any minute the peyote is going to take him to hallucination land. John starts in with Jane on who would possibly walk into a fumigated apartment to retrieve….then Andre just appeared. The ship might have sailed on the waiting for peyote bit. Andre somehow just happened to have a bag of Jane’s stuff. The Lou’s introduction to this new game called “truth or dare” is interrupted by Jane. She walks out holding a clarinet. With the unibrow in full rebellious growth and her hair resembled that of Mad Madam Mim.

Courtesy of Disney

Courtesy of Disney

All along the way, there seems to be a stalement between Lou and Oscar over who is really John’s mentor.

Just as John feels like he has an out with this the truth or dare rules, no less than six participants, Natasha Leggero runs in. Leggero, another staple on the current standup circuit, I assume must be ‘rodeo’.

Motif draws truth from Rodeo. The question is “Who or what are you in love with?” John leans in and says, I would lie on this one. Then out of respect for the game, Motif gives Rodeo an old standard.

Motif: Rodeo, I love you. But I’m not in love with you. And also, I don’t love you.

Then Rodeo goes into ‘tear this place up’ mode. As if that weren’t bad enough, Lou comes in for John’s turn and suggests truth. “Which one of us is really your mentor, me or this hippie?” Some back and forth later and Oscar has found himself about to escort Lou ‘outside’ and let the cat out of the bag concerning John’s peyote use and ignorance toward the knowledge of Lou’s birthday.

Lou is throwing his own pity party. John then decides regardless of the threat of the onset of peyote, they are staying. No one should be alone on their birthday. Rodeo finds the gun in Lou’s safe and forces Motif to say what she wants him to up to and including “we’re getting married” because she has the gun pressed into Motif’s back.

Jane has completely reverted back to full on Gagoosh. So Gagoosh gets truth, “How did you lose your virginity? The story and flashback tell a story of Gagoosh spotting a scared preppy boy and seizing an opportunity to shed her flower and she talked the boy. Or in other words, Gagoosh was the Reggie Watts looking zombie.

The egg timer goes off and John doesn’t feel the effects of the peyote. He begins to monologue about rejecting the old him and embracing the current, responsible, good friend that he is now. He goes around the room to address each person. Lou, Jane, Andre, Oscar, Lou (again), Dracula…and then the peyote kicks in and John is transformed into a smiling, catatonic, tripping version of John. Then Lou has a great idea.

Lou (looking at Oscar): He needs the both of us. Let’s FREAK HIM OUT!

Lou and Oscar appear to be new BFFs sitting on the couch recounting the evening eating pudding. Then John runs out of a bedroom asking what happened last night. “You made a fool of yourself in ways we will tell you over the years. Jane comes out looking like Jane again. John mentions that he knows they had sex last night but they don’t have to talk about it. Jane convinces him that it wasn’t her and he was on peyote. Despite the monster with the clarinet account. Then Andre walks out in boxers and no shirt holding a clarinet. Everyone looks uncomfortable.

Courtesy of Fox

Courtesy of Fox

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Thirteen-year-olds are the meanest people in the world. They terrify me to this day, because 8th graders will make fun of you but in an accurate way. They will get to the thing that you don’t like about you. They don’t even have to look at you for long. They’ll just be like, ‘Ha, ha, ha, ha, hey, look at that high wasted man. He got feminine hips.’ And I’m like, ‘No! That’s the thing I’m sensitive about.’

That’s not a direct quote from tonight’s episode but is a quote from his standup special, “New In Town”. No doubt this sentiment that has come up before, may have something to do with tonight’s episode. Also, did anyone else notice that in the opening credits sequence, they now have Ice T announcing himself before saying the “Mulaney is taped before a live studio audience” bit? Another reference to a classic John Mulaney standup bit. If you’re interested, Google “John Mulaney Law and Order SVU”.

John enters the living room looking for a jacket with ‘lots of zippers’ (one can only guess Michael Jackson Bad kind of jacket). John has a date with a woman we are as of now not familiar with, and who has a teen-aged daughter. All indications should point to a 13-year-old girl who is wrapped up in her own angst. John tells a story where “Paul” (a friend of his from childhood) and Paul was not very popular. They shared an affection for Gene Wilder and a number of other comedic actors of the day.

John had previously set up a lunch date with Lou and Mario Cantone, who backed out at the last-minute. John urgently needs someone to step in and have lunch with Lou. Or more accurately, listen to Lou blab on and on about whatever he chooses while someone of relative importance listens. And enjoys a very nice meal. My only issue with any of this thus far is that this is now the second time Jane (at least) will be spending time with Lou. yet, there is zero familiarity. Not a big deal just an observation. Add the element of Jane listening to Lou for a free lunch with Motif channeling his former ‘hype man’ period, and this should be fun.

No one comedian or style of comedy is equally great for everyone. But seriously, who wouldn’t love the visual of Motif sitting in the middle of a curved booth seat in a swanky restaurant listening to someone else speak, eating his lunch, never looking up until the storyteller says something that Motif feels needs repeating and shouts loud enough for everyone to hear. Thus, ‘hype man’.

“Ruby” the title of tonight’s episode walks through the door of the girlfriend’s apartment. Ruby is a thirteen year old girl in typical catholic dress code attire. John is visibly nervous. He tries to connect with her and fails as expected. Mom is more than overbearing and that will probably become an issue with John.

Girlfriend: Ruby, smile when you speak. Winners always smile. You look so much more attractive when you smile. Isn’t that right, John?
John (stares at both women before speaking): Pass.

Then John attempts to connect with her on a level he is quite skilled at (the person as well as the character I’d imagine), Television. Ruby isn’t into television, but she is into movies. Blazing Saddles to be specific. Blazing Saddles-Gene Wilder, we have a connection. Right about the time John is discovering that he probably has more in common with the daughter than the girlfriend, the girlfriend asks him a huge favor. To help out with Ruby for a couple of days. How could this possibly end badly.

John: It turns out that she’s (Ruby) great. She’s like me but in a thirteen year old girl’s body.
Jane and Motif in unison: So…just like you? Jinx!

Then we have a montage of John walking with Ruby all over the streets of New York. For those of us familiar with the standup material, this is a great sort of rapid fire of shorter unrelated bits. Suffice it to say it feels like they are connecting even if she isn’t saying much. Jane even contributes, “boys you like now are just little rats”. Then the wheels fall off. Ruby mentions that she doesn’t always like her mother. And John basically agrees. Which will end badly.

John and Ruby talk about the talent show she is expected to do. Her mother wants her to do something that her mother would do. John agrees that an adult pushing their dreams on a kid is unfair. Then he suggests that Ruby and her friends do the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” dance number from Young Frankenstein. A number that John and his friend Paul were supposed to do, but John chickened out of. Talk about the pot and the kettle. Then Ruby suggests that ‘this’ looks like Woody Allen. A reference that John would run from, if it wouldn’t be awkward or damaging in some way.

Ruby: This reminds me of Woody Allen…
John: What…?
(John pulls his arm back and scoots to the right creating more space between the two)
John: Ohhh. Cinematically. (John scoots further) That’s how I like to think of him too.

At another luncheon with Lou, they have finally had enough. Renting Andre out to a Saudi was the last straw. If these lunches are to continue, Motif and Jane will need to speak too. Lou almost sounds sincere, until you realize its just another ploy to segue into another story about him. And even when he seems to stomach they’re boring stories, its only to transition into splitting the bill. When he turns around, there is no sign of Jane or Motif.

John accidentally bumps into ‘ole Paul. Who as it turns out, was not brave or had an inflated sense of confidence. He was a legitimate sociopath. John urgently needs to put a stop to Ruby’s talent show. When he arrives, Ruby is on stage and they announce the ‘monster’ which is John’s queue. Then the boos start and John is out of there.

Later, John attempts to answer the questions from Jane and Motif about the talent show. He is a bad liar. Then there is a pounding on the door. He pleads with his roommates to not open the door. Its Ruby dressed as Gene Wilder, tux and all. To make matters worse, Mom is not that far behind. Then Ruby does what John fears most. A thirteen year old about to insult him.

Ruby: What’s wrong with you isn’t your shoes. What’s wrong with you is this. Next year I’m going to be fourteen, but you’re going to be thirteen. For. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life.

Courtesy of Fox

Courtesy of Fox

Warning: Spoiler Alert

John begins this episode like all of them with a standup excerpt. In many cases, using new material. Tonight was an old classic. The “Helta” or “Belta” Airlines piece is actually somewhat anecdotal to the bigger bit of dating a Jewish woman. This bit illustrates how much getting ‘pushed around’ he will endure until his Jewish girlfriend will point out a very logical alternative to allowing oneself to be pushed around.

Side note: If any of this episode seemed familiar, it wasn’t a rerun. A decent amount of tonight’s episode was used in promotions including but not limited to the “Mulaney: An Opening Act” preview special that aired a week before the first episode.

There is a pattern of disrespect or at least a pattern of small slights that have accumulated in Mulaney’s mind. Motif attempts to pay rent with “Motif Merchandise”. Jane can’t pay rent because she has run out of checks and refuses to discover how to get more, or at least that’s the story she’s going with. Motif’s girlfriends also have a tendency to use up shower time and then the ladies in question make off with John’s jeans.

Jane has become a cat person. Not for some deep-rooted affection for cats, but because she dates men so that she doesn’t have to sleep alone. Buying a cat allows her to potentially not sleep alone, and skip passed the annoyance of dating men. This will probably not go well. His name is Omar.

Lou badly wants to star in a Martin Scorsese film about the Florida Party Boy Murderer. John sees the disconnect between Lou’s desire and the reality of the character not fitting Lou, but Lou doesn’t. However, Lou’s strategy to incorporate ‘power moves’ as a means to get respect, very much appeals to John. Not for a movie part, but to reel in his roommates.

Motif and Jane talk about the benefit of having a cat and makes the mistake of assuming that Jane and Omar are sleeping together. Jane is ready and willing, but Omar doesn’t jump in the bed with just anyone. Then Motif’s girlfriend of this particular scene comes out holding Omar. This sparks some cute version of Jane’s feminine jealousy. Andre walks in just in time to find out about Omar.

Jane: Hey Andre, I got a cat. I’m done with men.
Andre: Whoa. You’re done with men so you skip right past dogs and ‘Andres’ and go to cats?
(Jane walks away)
Andre: What do I have to do to win you Jane?

John walks in and Motif informs him that the shower/jeans situation is happening again. Then John puts on a hat (on the top of his head as to not mess up his hair), that makes him look like Duckie from Pretty In Pink. This single move seems to scare Motif and Andre. Motif decides to get John’s jeans back and deal with the large box that needs to go down to the curb. This power move interests Motif’s latest girlfriend. John lays on her the limpest handshake in human history and it works as well.

Courtesy of FOX and Paramount Pictures

Courtesy of FOX and Paramount Pictures

Oscar stops by the apartment as Jane is looking for Omar. They have one of those conversations where they both believe they are talking about the same thing, when in fact they are almost having two completely different conversations. Oscar makes a reference to ‘messing with his coconut’ which was directed at Omar. Then John walks in and treats Motif as if they are not acquainted. Once John is out of view, Motif realizes that John has been messing with his coconut.

Jane gives Motif a folder of embarrassing things she’s collected over the years about John. Which Motif is happy to use to his advantage. He returns later and John attempts his power move nonsense. Only this time, Motif is prepared. With religious guilt, a basketball, and a phrase intended to pull out a cheer from John’s mascot days.

Motif: Hey John, what does “B” stand for?
John: B stands for blessed and V stands for virgin. Blessed virgin, I’m a virgin, go-ooooo boys!
(Motif displays an animated sinister head nod)
John: You! Whoa. Whoa
Motif: Yeah.
John: Whoa.
Motif: Yeah.
John: Oh, it is on!

What follows is a lovely video montage set to, what I’m told is N’Sync music. A series of shots that show Motif and John doing various things and being disrupted by the efforts of the other. While also including Jane doing anything and everything to get Omar’s attention, like what a woman might do to get a man’s attention. Culminating in John waking up in the middle of the night to discover the large box has been placed in his bed. And ultimately, Omar sneaking into Jane’s room, ripping back the sheets and Jane being part scared part excited, like she’s about to be ravaged.

John shows up to the set wearing a tank top he was forced to wear after Motif donated all of his clothes. Lou takes a moment to illustrate how far John has taken the power move strategy. Insinuating that he has become a monster. Like the Florida Party Murderer guy. John chooses to drop it and so does Motif. At least they have Jane. And on cue, Jane walks out with what is politely referred to as ‘sex hair’. She’s been sleeping with Omar, although she is very clear to point out that it was just cuddling. So, for now, everything is back to normal.

Editorial Note: This is now the second show in as many weeks that has caught me. Second episode in a row that I have laughed (or cackled) out loud at my television. I don’t know what Fox or the critics are hoping for, but in my book that is “mission accomplished” for a sitcom. The television landscape is flooded with dramas of all kinds. There are very few sitcoms that can hold an American viewer. It might be time to let the ‘Seinfeld rip off’ cliché go. It is an homage at the very most. The show works. The story lines and plot points are right in that spectrum for what should be expected for a sitcom. Furthermore, this is a throw back to the sitcoms of the 80’s and 90’s. All in the Family and The Cosby Show it is not. However, in a television landscape that seems to be dominated by high quality dramas, an obscene amount of bad (and in most cases, reality in type) mindless shows, and a sprinkling of decent sitcoms here and there, Mulaney is exactly what it’s supposed to be. Fox, critics, and general television rabble-rousers need to take a step back and view this show for what it is, and not for what it isn’t even trying to be.

Courtesy of Fox

Courtesy of Fox

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

Courtesy of Fox

Courtesy of Fox

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“I don’t like people. Is that a good way to start? I like ‘persons’, but I don’t like groups of people coming together. It frightens me. Like if I could have dinner with any three people from history alive or dead…I wouldn’t.”

John invites Jane to view a live taping of You Guessed It. This is fine and all as in some very small way it advances the story line that we expect somehow, someway that John and Jane will end up together. Even if it’s tragic. Problem is that Jane does not laugh at much. And she didn’t laugh at all in front of Lou Cannon. And Lou is more than neurotic enough for that to be an issue. Apparently the only thing she finds funny are animals acting like humans and people severely injuring themselves on camera. Thus her affection for America’s Funniest Home Videos.

The next day John attempts to get Lou passed the one audience member not laughing at his jokes, and focus on his new web content idea. Then there is a knock at the door. It’s Jane. Lou has hired her as a physical trainer. A job that she is apparently not very good at. Jane was under the impression that John got her the job. John had absolutely zero to with this. Lou is merely using this opportunity to get a laugh out of the lady who didn’t laugh.

John: Jane! What are you doing here?
Jane: I got a call that Lou needed a trainer, I assumed you got me the job.
John: NO. I had nothing to do with this. And I don’t think he hired you to be his trainer.
Jane: What?! You mean he wants to sleep with me?
John: Its worse than that. He wants to make you laugh.
Jane(gasps at the thought of it): That’s gross.

The plan of action is to get Jane to ‘fake laugh’ at the next thing Lou says. A complicated plan as Jane’s real laugh is awful and her fake laugh is almost equally so. Her fake laugh comes on the heels a quick adlib moment that no one would laugh at. So as Lou adds cheesy jokes and play of words, she continues to laugh. Thus creating the illusion that he is hilarious now and funnier than before. Thinking this charade was over, John tries to create a nice exit for Jane. Lou sees her as his new trainer/consultant. John gets the day off and Lou focuses on Jane. At first she’s afraid. Then Lou throws out a number.

Lou: We’ll call you my Trainer/Consultant. How’s $750 a day sound?
Jane: For $750 a day, you can call me a dumb b***h.

Motif is headlining the “Urban Experience” comedy show. He invites John, but John knows he’ll just be the token white guy getting roasted in the first row. With Jane occupying Lou, he decides to go. The second Motif’s friends show up, he begins to lay into “this cornbread @$$ looking idiot”. The friends chime in on the characters he does. Then John drops the little bombshell about how Motif is not from the ‘circle’ that his characters would suggest.

Jane spills to John about her day with Lou. And to John’s amazement, it wasn’t horrible. That combined with Jane being hired for the week is driving a visible wedge in John’s mind. Motif walks in looking dejected. His real life is no where as funny as his made up one. Just then Oscar knocks on the door with the timing only the writers could give to Oscar. Apparently Motif’s father is squash partners with Oscar’s brother Mortimer. Which for me, is all I need to make it funny. Whether it’s true or not doesn’t really matter. But Motif shouldn’t be taking stand up advise from Oscar. Oscar’s a different kind of humorous.

John shows up at Lou’s apartment to find Jane dressed like a trophy wife doing a photo shoot with Lou. Lou throws out a few layout and wardrobe suggestions. All of which John supports without thinking about it. Jane rejects them all. Further cementing the idea that Jane will give him the truth, no matter what. With Lou out of the room, John tries to point out the problems with this set up. In the end, if push comes to shove and John decides to out Jane, Jane would just have to out John.

John finds himself hanging out with Andre. We’ll come back to that later.

Motif attempts to bring his very cushy, happy childhood and the people from it into his act in front of an ‘urban’ crowd. It doesn’t go well.

On set, John attempts to pitch his green room idea where he would interview guests before they come on stage. Lou puts it to Jane and she shoots it down immediately. Then back peddles when John reacts. Then she tries a different fake laugh. Lou suggests against fake laughing. Lou and Jane leave for dinner with Ringo Star. Outside the restaurant, John stands leaning against a lamp post, in the pouring rain. Sad, like the little guy in a teenaged romantic comedy. He is approached by a woman staring at the same table. This woman is Molly Shannon of SNL fame (surprise surprise) and as it turns out, she is the former Mrs. Cannon. She even admits that she’s stalking Lou, and might kill him. Or might not.

John enters Lou’s apartment soaked from head to toe. He goes full on Jerry Maguire on Lou and Jane letting his jealousy run wild. Actually a very well done scene. The first half of the Mulaney run felt like a writer reciting his material. A few months ago marked a level of improvement on the show. One factor of which is that John is sounding less and less like a writer on camera. While John is letting his crazy out, he mentions how all of this started from Jane’s laugh. Jane’s real, authentic laugh. Then Andre walks in with his dog riding a skateboard. An English Bulldog named, Rasta Fazuli. An English Bulldog dressed like a Jamaican pot head. Now it’s important to remember, Jane laughs hysterically at only two things. People injuring themselves on camera and animals that look like humans.

Lou (pointing at Jane): What is that? Is someone tickling a witch?
Jane: Look at that dog!!! He’s a stoner

Jane leaves content to be fired with her severance of $3500, many gifts and healthcare for 6 months. John apologizes for his behavior. Lou then admits that he can depend on John, but he get bored of dependable people. Lou goes on to admit that when he gets bored, he brings a bossy woman into his life, the turns his back on them, and there are no hard feelings. Except for the infrared laser pointed on his chest. Then John yells, “It’s your ex wife” and tackles Lou to the ground.

Courtesy of FOX

Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Young Mulaney auditions for the part of ‘Kevin’ for an unspecified part. Considering Christmas is 4 days away, I’ve got a good guess as to what the part is. Back at the apartment, Jane and Motif share who they bought presents for, but one name is obviously missing, John’s. While they ignore John’s subtle hint as to what they could get him, Motif notices Home Alone is on. A sore subject for John as the Kevin he auditioned for was Kevin McCallister in Home Alone. A part he didn’t get.

Lou is worried about the host of ABC’s Christmas Special. A host named Jesse Tyler Munoz, played by the talented Nick Kroll of the Nick Kroll Show and The League fame. John takes a look at the bookings for Lou’s Christmas Special. Including securing the rights to perform a certain Christmas song. The joke here is that they couldn’t get “Baby It’s Cold Outside” so they opted for a lesser know ‘rapey’ holiday tune. And finally, that they will have a cameo from Macauly Culkin, the star of Home Alone.

Andre shows up in the middle of John’s ‘Mac’s Back’ meltdown. Andre is complaining that his mother always dresses him in strange clothing in the winter. John mentions that Lou’s show is hiring extras. A nice way to make some extra cash. You know, to use to buy your friends gifts. This has become a running gag in the episode. John’s hard to buy for. So whenever he brings it up, Jane and Motif pretend to be preoccupied.

On the set of You Guessed It when Macauly Culkin is announced. Even Lou is gushing over the appearance. Then Andre shows up in his stupid canary yellow down jacket and absurd rainbow-colored that with ears looking for where the ‘extras’ go. The person he’s addressed is stand up and sitcom fast riser Ron Funches. Ron Funches plays a character who is a ‘Zoggle’, or a puppet alternative to the Muppets. He believes that Andre’s face and hat are a mask. So Andre plays along.

Munoz (Nick Kroll) is hiding on Lou’s set when he hears Mulaney say, “I hate this special”. Munoz has a much thicker Spanish accent than he uses on his show. I get the impression Mr. Kroll will be channeling more of Kroll Show than his character on The League. Which will be awesome.

Mulaney and Kroll

After rehearsal, Andre decides to take a snooze. One of the crew mistake him for one of these Zoggles and packs him away for the next day, like he was a stuffed animal. Next we see a group of very large costumes resembling various animals dancing in a circle with Andre in the middle in his bright street clothes. Then Motif and Jane drop by the set. Which is nice for John, until Jane asks if he could get Mac to sign her Home Alone poster.

Lou comes around the corner furious about Munoz’ presence on his set the day before. They decide to rehearse without Culkin just in case Munoz comes back. Convenient way to play it if you don’t actually have Macauley Culkin or plan to reveal him in the last moments. Lou wants John to be Culkin’s stand in. Which is a few seconds before John snaps and walks out. As he storms he proclaims that he was supposed to have Culkins life. Then Motif gets an idea.

John enters his apartment to find grey sheets covering everything. Bottles of booze on one piece of furniture and a Victrola playing old music on another. Motif walks out playing a character of himself as a bum. John sees right through it immediately. They are trying to place John in the George Bailey “I wish I was never born” scenario from It’s A Wonderful Life. Jane comes in playing the old lady whose blind, then not blind. John sees this as a rouse and tries to poke holes in their story. John tries to leave but Oscar’s on the other side of the door exposing his flash from his new camera pretending to be the paparazzi. The funny part is that Oscar is not playing along with the It’s A Wonderful Life rouse.

John returns to find someone left the audition tape from Home Alone in a gift bag hanging from the door handle. He decides to relive the glory days only to find out his audition was putrid. He stops the tape to find that Munoz has stolen their entire guest list.

John: Munoz stole Lou’s special. I got so caught up in my imaginary rivalry with Macauley that I let my guard down. I have to get that lineup back. Enough of this Home Alone stuff. This is my special. I have to protect it.

What happens next is a lovely parody of John trying to infiltrate the Celebrity Moves set (the show that Munoz hosts) and getting the Home Alone treatment as if he were Joe Pesci or Daniel Stern and not Culkin. Tarred and feathered and hit with a flying by a string paint bucket. Munoz comes in to claim that anyone tries to confront him on Christmas and they get “Home Alone’d”. John hasn’t ever even seen the movie, adding to the humor of the bit.

Munoz informs Mulaney he is too late, as Munoz has secured the rights to Lou’s rapey Snowman song and has the Zoggles under contract. “A contract with the Zoggles doesn’t cover non-Zoggles” and Mulaney calls to Andre, who runs to him like a toddler. This is upsetting to Munoz who thought the “Nerdy Dog” was the best one.

Mulaney saves the day at the last second by bringing Andre as ‘New York’s Greatest Puppet’, Oscar as the composer of ‘Santa ain’t leavin’ til he gets your cookies’ and agrees to stand in for Macauley Culkin in a wig.

At home John thanks Jane and Motif for the It’s A Wonderful Life treatment and giving him the audition tape to show him how bad it was and to reaffirm that his life is the life he should have. Then Motif admits that they did not such thing. Oscar admits that he got John a Seltzer machine because he loves seltzer. Then there is a recurring joke going back to Philipino Santa.

John: Does that mean Philipino Santa is the real Santa…?

Courtesy of FOX

Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We start off tonight’s episode with a second show in a row with completely fresh material. It may not seem like much, but that is a big consideration. This was about finding a new apartment. These have all been used as a device to telegraph some aspect of the plot. So who is moving out, I guess is the question.

John and Jane return from a tenant meeting. Motif is in the background and suggests they should invite him to one of those meetings. Which leads them to break the news to Motif that he technically is not on the lease. Which was delivered in a similar manner to how two parents attempt to inform their child that he or she is in fact adopted.

Lou apparently pays a guy to sit in the front of the audience as a go to insult plant. A person Lou can make fun of who won’t be problematic, because he’s being paid for his troubles. And it’s been the same guy for decades.

Motif meets with his ‘homies’. Which are three women who could not possibly seem any more opposite from Motif. They seem to be rich, white, ‘whinos’ who cannot help themselves from spitting out horrible slogans to suggest Motif needs to be on the lease.

Motif takes the advice of these ladies and decides to investigate the previous roommates to see where he ‘stacks up’. First stop Andre. Who wasn’t a roommate but creepily has kept notes on the people who were.

Barging into the apartment, Motif decides to breach the lease issue again. He immediately notices that candles are lit and John and Jane are dressed up and standing together on the other side of the kitchen island. He then implores them to not kick him out. They had a chat and made a decision. John hands Motif an envelope which Motif opens like a child on Christmas morning. They added him to the cable bill. Not the lease. He storms out.

On set at You Guessed It, the mild observation that Lou has never offered a contract to his comedic punching bag, has become a full-fledged mutiny.

John and Jane can’t help but notice a heightened volume of the city, then they realized that Motif was just always talking drowning out the noise. Which incites a fight about not having scissors. Then transitioning into how Motif would objectify her daily, but it came off as sweet.

The craziest of the ‘homies’ group has presented a lease for Motif to sign to move in with her. Just as he’s about to sign it, John and Jane run into the restaurant like a guy trying to stop a woman from boarding a plane in a bad Rom-com. The issue of the previous roommates came up. Despite the information Andre gave him, they were actually kicked out for legitimate reasons. And this time, they are going to take him to the tenant meeting and have him added to the lease.

Just about the time Arnie (the audience plant) is about to sign a contract to play a recurring character on the Good Wife, Lou runs in and begs him not to. There are too many of these ironic ‘funny finding you here’ in the largest city in the country. Lou offers Arnie a contract with benefits. John even runs over to tell Arnie he should “100% do the Good Wife”. Arnie chooses audience plant.

At the meeting, the motion is denied. Something about the size of the apartment. Then John tries to push back and claims if Motif’s not on the lease then no one is. To which Jane completely disagrees. This creates an opening for Jane and Motif to be on the lease but not John.