Tag Archives: Elliot Gould

Mulaney: Lou’s Respect Tactics Backfire On John

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.

Mulaney: Jane Attempts To Be More Lady-Like

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

Mulaney: What Lou Doesn’t Know Might Hurt Him

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.

Mulaney: It’s My Special, And I Must Protect It

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…?

Mulaney: The Third Wheel

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.

Mulaney: Patriotic, But Only When It’s Convenient

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

This week Mulaney returns with a completely new bit in the cold open. It wasn’t necessarily an incredible bit, but I appreciate incorporating new material. No one is going to mistake John Mulaney for a military man, so the bit was moderately funny.

John, Jane and Motif are in first class flying back from a wedding. The flight attendant makes an announcement that they have a Marine traveling with them. Which incites a discussion on feeling guilty about never enlisting. And right about the moment that John decides he’s going to give up his first class seat to the Marine, he looks over and Motif already has. It is vaguely reminiscent of a Louis CK bit called, “First Class” from his Live from the Beacon Theater special. Similar to, but not the same.

Somehow, Jane weaseled her way into the attention of this Marine. The Marine is played by Robert Baker who had a nice little stint on Justified. Oscar drops by with no real agenda in mind when he notices the Marine’s bag. Makes a reference the military in the 1960s being the first exposure to musical theater. As in USO shows. Then John thinks doing a USO show would be great. But not in a war zone. In a place like Florida.

On the set of You Guessed It, John asks if he can step out early to go sign up to do a USO show. This idea makes Lou very uncomfortable. It even launches him into some sort of dream sequence. John and Motif show up at the USO office. John had no idea that it was an audition situation and he bombed. Motif on the other hand, killed.

The Marine returns to the apartment with a three-legged dog. John offers to watch the dog instead of having it put in a kennel. Then asks if he would mind listening to John’s jokes to see how they might be received by a military man. What followed was a military alpha male playing drill sergeant to a man who is very much not military like.

Back on set, John again brings up the USO to Lou which is still not received well. John’s idea is that if Lou does the show, they will let him open for Lou. Apparently the USO is one of two things you never ask Lou about.

John asks Lou what happened back then. It was a flashback sequence to when he and an Improv troupe did a USO show in Hawaii. He bombed. Then shot his friend with a t-shirt cannon.

Motif lost the Marine’s dog when he left him in a park to ‘get laid’. As anyone would want to do for a soldier on leave. Eventually the dog makes his way to Oscar’s apartment. And then in the custody of Andre. Only it’s not Franklin (the three-legged dog). It’s just a German Sheppard that looks vaguely similar.

The roommates and Andre have a meeting to discuss what to do since they no longer have Franklin. Suggestions include, cut the leg off of the dog Andre found, cut the leg off of a stuffed animal dog, or trick the Marine into believing the hamster inside a diorama is his dog. When they settle on cut the leg off the dog Andre found, Chad the Marine walks in. He is naturally and immediately concerned for his dog. He is also dressed like a tourist. Which completely deflated any attraction Jane had for him. He also claims he can remove John from the USO show. Because, they can always find some old washed up USO comedian. Which gives John an idea.

John walks onto Lou’s sound stage and introduces an old friend. The guy Lou shot with the t-shirt gun. And he puts to rest any idea that Lou was at fault for any wrong doing. Then we find Lou and John on a plane in first class. John believes he is going to open for Lou somewhere in Florida. Just then the flight attendant over the loud-speaker says the trip to Kabul…. John instantly gets nervous. That’s about the time Lou tells him that he won’t be opening because Murphy (t-shirt gun guy) will opening. So John’s just going to Afghanistan to go to Afghanistan.

Mulaney: Lies to Mom and Jazzapram

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

People say, “I think I’m becoming more like my Dad”. I think I’m becoming more like my Mom. This is a bit that the John Mulaney standup enthusiasts are familiar with. Then he adds a twist. A bit that was used in his most recent standup tour (also considered the promote the ‘Mulaney’ series tour). This new bit is not something captured on a CD or Comedy Central special. Well played.

I just realized something and I’m ashamed to admit it. Every show begins with the John Mulaney standup cold open. Then the credits. Then the opening scene. Between credits and opening scene is a short voice-over that says, “Mulaney is taped before a live studio audience”. I’ve never paid that much attention to it. It just dawned on me the voice in the voice-over belongs to Law and Order SVU star and former gangster rapper Ice T. And for our big time John Mulaney fans that is increasingly funny because John is known for a number of things. One of which is his growing number of bits about Law and Order. Maybe the funniest of which includes a story about watching Ice T on SVU. Just thought I’d mention it.

It seems this episode is headed toward the “Irish don’t like comfort” and “my mother is super religious” portion of the John Mulaney catalog. Sprinkle in Jane talking about her new lawyer boyfriend no one wants to hear about. And the inevitable and always enjoyable, Oscar moment.

During the opening scene, Jane starts in on her boyfriend which John and Motif could not possibly care any less about. Birth control comes up and Jane happens to sum it up as the pill convincing your body it’s already pregnant. This surprises Motif, who previously had no idea what the scientific explanation is. In his head the pill is playing a game of space invaders against the attack of sperm.

John’s mother arrives and it’s everything you’d expect. A slight caricature of the Mrs. Mulaney portrayed in the standup. Completely in the dark about who John is currently. Then she is introduced to Lou Cannon. While Lou is willing to tolerate only so much ‘Mom banter’, his attitude changes when she appeals to his ability as a serious actor. Then Lou gets that look in his face that indicates he’s considering pursuing this woman. Lou invites her to a Yankee game with Letterman and John gives the telegraphed but always funny, “wait…what?”

The birth control is affecting Jane. Making her more “Jane-y” than normal. HUGE sweat stains. And the attitude is in overdrive.

Motif: Mood swings. I think that Jazzapram is messing with you.
Jane: The only think Jazzapram is doing is letting me have stress free boning with that TNT Drama looking dude.

Lou takes John and his mother around “his New York” and continues his flirty ways with Mom. While she runs into a department store to use the rest room, John tells Lou he has to cancel the Yankee game invite. Lou cannot lie to this particular woman. So then John has an idea. He needs the priest of a local catholic church to tell John’s mother that his name is priest ‘Tre’, he’s young and cool, they shoot hoops every weekend and John attends mass every week. The Priest is Irish, old and grey. And refuses to lie many times to John’s mother.

John actually takes the priest’s advice and prays. Which Jane witnesses and is for lack of a better term, grossed out. Then John and his mother are in church. Where an older lady approaches and announces that mass will be conducted by a visiting priest, “Father Tre”. Played by Pete Holmes. Another standup comedian who had a short-lived late night show on TBS and does great work with CollegeHumor.com. Father Tre, basically conducts his sermon the exact same way I’d expect Pete Holmes to do it if it were a bit. John is riveted. Not only at the efficient power of prayer, but also because the sermon is delivered like a standup set. Premise, buildup, punch line, repeat.

Mom HAS to say hello to Father Tre after the service is over. John tries intently to not draw attention to himself, because he knows this Father Tre doesn’t know him. And just then after shaking Mom’s hand, looks to John and says, “You too John. Good to see you.” Apparently Father Tre has seen some work John did on VH1. Then informs John that Father Ed passed away last night. Around the same time John prayed asking for help with this church issue. So now, John’s Roman Catholicism is putting the blame for the death of Father Ed squarely on his shoulders.

The further Jazzapram issue has turned Jane into a female facsimile of Andre. Then she read the warning label on the medication. What she read pretty much described Andre to a t. Previously we learned that Andre has also been on Jazzapram. There’s a knock at the door and Andre walks in. Hair combed with product, a trimmed beard, a black suit and Andre speaking clearly and articulating. All because he’s no longer on Jazzapram.

John runs over to Oscar’s apartment and confesses that he thinks his prayers killed a priest. Oscar’s solution is to prove John can’t kill anyone with his prayers. And to do this, Oscar wants John to pray that Oscar’s fern (named Connie Chung) dies. Then Oscar creates an analogy to John’s “you wouldn’t understand”. That being that Oscar was in the closet from 1938 to 1975.

TNT Drama guy is turning out to be not as advertised. Jane thought he was a feminist. Instead he just hates using condoms. He suggest that Jane do something instead of conventional intercourse and she replies in that fake enthusiastic way she has just before she lashes out.

Jane: Hello, 911? Yeah, there’s a naked man in my room.

John decides to come clean with his mother. She assumes he’s about to tell her he’s gay. He’s straight, just delicate. He then informs her that he is not friends with Father Tre and that he never goes to church anymore. She replies without skipping a beat, “I kissed Lou”. Turns out, for now at least, Mom is perfectly alright with John not going to church as long as he figures it out eventually and doesn’t wake up at 60 to find out he’s just like Lou Cannon.

In the close, TNT Drama guy returns not happy about the 911 call. Then a ripped guy walks up asking if he was the guy that hurt Jane. The ripped guy is supposed to be Andre a week off the pill. Then Oscar opens his door and puts a dead fern outside the apartment and says, “Sorry Connie”.

Mulaney: Jealous Roommate vs. The Ha-Ha Ho

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The World Series preempted last week’s Mulaney episode. This week Mulaney is restored to it place in the Sunday lineup. Based on the stand up cold open, I must assume this episode will be about how girlfriends and friends that are girls don’t always get along. Meaning Jane vs the new girlfriend.

John trying to equate his journey through puberty to his experience with the show Friends to Motif, just may be one of the best comedic devices I’ve seen in a while. Motif of course has never even heard of friends. His reaction to it is great.

Motif: Why are they in a fountain? … Oh, they have umbrellas.

Lou plugs in John’s laptop charger and there are sparks. Lou yells out, “I did it for the laughs” in an attempt to control the way he dies. He’s just practicing.

Motif miraculously is on season three of Friends 7 minutes (of real time) after discovering Friends. And like a man trying to predict the Sopranos or the Walking Dead Motif asks, “Joey’s gonna die isn’t he?” This is also the part in the episode where John puts together an opportunity for Kristin and Jane to meet. Going back to the cold open, this scenario is destined to fail miserably.

Anyone married, about to be married or in a long term (common law long) relationship is very familiar with what happens next. Clearly both of these women hate each other on sight. But, it’s critical that they maintain that friendly smile and high pitched voice thing even though one would literally stab the other in the back with a knife if the opportunity presented itself.  Jane even referred to Kristin as a “Ha-Ha Ho”, insinuating that she’s nothing more than a comedian groupie.

Motif’s theory about what just went down is that Jane is jealous of this and pretty much every other girl John has dated. Jealous to the point of sabotage. And when John reject’s Motif’s premise, Motif fires back with, “just like Ross and Rachel”.

John drops by to see Oscar, who has two faces you should recognize in his apartment. Penny Marshall (Laverne and Shirley) and Lorainne Bracco (The Sopranos and Goodfellas). Tutti and Vaughn (Marshall and Bracco) indirectly convince John that if two women have a common hatred in something, that factor can turn them into friends. So, off the Andre’s Blues show, something everyone can dislike equally.

Jane shows up to give this forced female friendship another chance. And even hearing as bad as Andre’s Blues show is, when Kristin criticizes it, Jane defends Andre. It goes exactly not to plan. Eventually John tries to get Jane to give it a chance. And that’s when Kristin decides to not only leave, but claim that she defends him when others call him a “Seinfeld rip off”.

I’d love to think that this was thrown in as a shot to the critics who have said the same thing just because the show is about a stand up comic that shows him performing stand up each week. However, considering that most of the footage from the “Mulaney: Opening Act” special that preceded the start of the series came from this episode, I’m assuming it was already in the can. Which may prove even more impressive. If this episode had been in the can, on could deduce that they knew critics would get lazy call him a Seinfeld rip off. Either way, it’s good to be self deprecating. Especially when the ratings aren’t what they should be.

Then John, frustrated, accuses Jane of being jealous. Which prompts Jane to go into a very detailed version of what she thinks her experience would be (sexually) if she were to image herself with John. It is alarmingly detailed. So while the picture she paints is not flattering, clearly this is not the first time she’s imagined herself with John.

Sometime following that moment, John gets a text to come over to Lou’s apartment. They are doing a ‘trial run’. Lou is in the bathroom. Afraid of how things will play out if he were to die on the toilet like Elvis, Lou wants to test it out. While this scene is slight awkward, there is something comedic-ly beautiful about a tall slender subordinate carrying a short instructing superior. Lou insists he needs to be wearing pants before he is announced dead to the public. And naturally, they are skinny jeans that don’t fit and need to be ‘shimmied’.

Just then Kristin shows up at Lou’s apartment while John is trying to Lou’s pants on Lou. Lou, noticing a woman entered frantically attempts to get his skinny jeans on. Unsuccessfully. He eventually notices that Kristin does not care in the least. She’s over the moon excited that it’s really Lou Cannon. Then right in front of John with no hesitation, she figuratively throws her wares at Lou.

Kristin: I say this all the time but you’re my favorite comedian.
Lou: That’s sweet.
Kristin: I love those jeans.
Lou: Well thank you.
Kristin: I wonder what you’d look like out of them?
John: He looks like that because he’s not in them. Hey Kristin, you need to leave.
Lou: Yes, and tell the doorman that let you up, he’s fired.
Kristin(flirtatiously): Bye… (then deadpan) See you later John.
Lou: I don’t know how to break this to you, but I’m not convinced you two are going to make the journey.

John returns to his apartment where Jane is waiting patiently. Then all Mulaney shippers sit forward in their seats hoping this is the moment when John and Jane (which would make for an interesting spin off-if Fox didn’t put it in a terrible time slot on a day it had no hope of competing) accept their fate and get the romantic ball rolling. Pump the brakes kids. The closest thing you’re going to get is Jane admitting that John is her backup plan.

Out comes Motif wearing a black bomber jacket trudging through the kitchen and looking very depressed. He just saw the last episode of Friends. Then just before he walks out looking very sad. He asks John, “Do you think that Friends were actually friends in real life?” John replies with a simple “I do Motif, I do”, which seems to make Motif’s day and turn around his depression about the end of Friends.

Presumably the next day, John asks Lou to plug in his laptop charger. This time the outlet electrocutes Lou. Then we see a news report that not only has Lou pre-written obituary, but also includes a quote that Donna must have given.

Lou: Oh, and Donna…Get me some more of those diet chocolate puddings. I’m such a chubby little baby.

Famous last words. Maybe, but probably not.

Mulaney: The Ghost of Mr. Lapidus

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

This week John’s standup cold open was completely fresh material. It wasn’t earth shattering but it was solid Mulaney stuff. The truly brilliant aspect of Mulaney’s stand up (if you’re ever privileged enough to see an entire set), there are no valleys. People often describe such a thing as having peaks and valleys. John Mulaney has no valleys. You never get a chance to catch your breath. Is it Salt and Pepper Diner or buying Marijuana in Denver funny? No. But it was fresh and funny. Specifically funny for the target audience.

I love how Oscar just walks into the apartment (Mulaney’s not Oscar’s) unannounced and says, “oh hello” and John responds with “oh hello”. A lovely little play on roles. A now deceased neighbor had given John a notebook of jokes in the hopes that John would give him feedback. John did not. Motif, and by some extension the group, decide it would be great if John did the neighbor’s material on his next gig.

At the day job, Lou Cannon is disappointed in the writing. Which in and of itself is funny because John is a writer on that show. Lou is grasping for a new direction and notices John holding a notebook. Yes that notebook. The one with an old dead man’s jokes in it. Lou quickly hands it off to be put in the prompter. Despite telling jokes that were intended for a very specific old guy, they worked well enough. The question is, did they work so well that now Lou’s expectations have been raised.

Jane decides that it is imperative that she find a way to secure the dead man’s ‘rent controlled’ apartment, by falsely claiming to be the common law wife of a man she couldn’t pick out of a police lineup. Meanwhile, Motif believes his room is haunted by the same dead man’s soul. And during this quick change of a conversation, Motif points out that while the notebook may have saved his job, it was morally questionable. Also, Andre though it would be a good idea to dress up as a ‘donkey’-like pinata for Halloween. He was often beaten up for his candy on Halloween. No way an adult pinata costume would make that worse.

What followed was great. Period. Maybe not for everyone. Jane sneaks into the dead man’s apartment. And proceeds to break out into a very (as in almost every way) Disney like song number. Seriously, listen to everything but the words and it sounds like it could be from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Which would, ironically, be accurate. Considering Jane’s fake common law wife idea.

In an attempt to come clean on the jokes and prevent a snow ball effect, John fails.

Following the break, we find Lou Cannon hosting his show on Halloween. Dressed very accurately as Austin Powers. It’s almost creepy. He spent the entire time telling more of the dead man’s jokes and never actually started the game for which the game show is named. During that exchange, Lou made it very clear he is not OK with stealing another person’s material. And if that weren’t enough, he has seven hours to deliver 100 new jokes to ensure his contract will be renewed.

Jane has fully immersed herself in the persona of what it would be like if she actually were married to the dead guy. A very old dead guy. John comes to the realization that he just needs to write new material. Cut to after the commercial break. John and Motif sit at a small table with candles and a Ouija board. The plan is to summon the dead man and get more jokes. And then let Motif catch the spirit.

Oscar happens to mention that the man was buried with a notebook that read “jokes” across the front. After the Ouija board fiasco and striking out with other elderly for joke content, John decides he needs to do the only thing left to do. He needs to dig up the dead guy and get that book of jokes.

The digging up the grave bit lasted about ten seconds. John shows up at the studio with no jokes and finally comes clean. Just as Lou is bearing down with the lies and the no new material, he throws what he thinks is a curve ball.

Lou: John you lied. And you have no new material for me to use next week. What do you have to say for yourself?
Mulaney: How about instead to telling jokes, we pick a top 40 song and you do a lip-sync at the beginning of the show?
Lou: Awesome. Love it. Your contract is renewed.
Mulaney: I’m not fired? It was that easy?
Lou: John, you spent the week scheming and lying just to keep me happy. I definitely don’t condone what you did, but I think I can exploit someone like you.

The scene finishes with John wishing Lou a happy Halloween. Which apparently has never happened. In part because Lou’s parents divorced on Halloween. Then they hug it out uncomfortably.

We find ourselves in the ‘wrap up’ segment and three significant things happen. 1) Motif acknowledges that the ghost of the dead man haunting his room is gone. And unrelated to that, they have a mice problem. 2) Jane was not ready to live on her own, or more accurately the landlord was not buying what she was selling. 3) All’s well that ends well. And then Motif says, “well it’s a good thing you didn’t rob that man’s grave”. Which we were under the impression was a true story. Then John chuckles in that evil maniacal way that a villain would do in a cheesy spy movie. The wind blows in, the camera zooms in on a notebook on a chair, the book opens to the first page and it reads, “Maybe just a lip sync to top 40 radio? Could be funny”.

It should be noted that while this Halloween episode feels like a very Lou heavy episode, and naturally to read the script, you’d get that impression. This was very much, to me, a Jane and Motif episode.

Mulaney: Squeamish About Bodily Functions

Courtesy of FOX
Courtesy of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

There has been a fair amount of conjecture regarding last week’s episode. I’m not going to go into great detail, but there are some common sense issues that viewers and critics as well as studio executives need to consider. Anytime you air a sitcom pilot up against the season premiere of Homeland, Major League Baseball playoffs, and Sunday Night Football, you are going to have less than desired ratings. It’s a sitcom. It’s not like you should expect immediate success like that of Gotham or The Blacklist.

For those who can’t get past the premise, you’re focusing on the wrong details. For my money, Mulaney is already better than Two Broke Girls, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, The New Girl, The Goldberg’s and a litany of other renewed sitcoms already on television. I’d include Modern Family in that as well, but I don’t want to incite the wrath of their fandom. Mulaney is in a difficult time slot for what it is. A new sitcom.

Do keep in mind that this is the juncture where my expectations are raised. I admittedly am a fan of John Mulaney, Seaton Smith, and Nasim Pedrad. And with John and Seaton specifically, I am familiar with their stand up work and believe this can be the kind of show it was designed to be. Last week a bulk of the material was previously written stuff. Verbatim. So this week I’m looking for new material. I want to hear new material and how that fits in.

With all of that said, it appears that FOX was shaken if not flat-out scared by the ratings and critical backlash. Multiple websites indicate that “The Doula” episode was intended to be the 7th episode in order. However, here we are week 2, and we’ve jumped ahead. The only reason I can imagine they’d do that is to shake things up. Maybe “The Doula” is edgier or something. Let’s find out.

“I was got a message”. OK John, here we go again. Here, let me finish it for you, “so I put on a sweater and a pair of corduroy pants, and I felt safe”. Welp, we have new material. For those that watched tonight’s episode, the “bodily functions that are acceptable to talk about” bit is new material. And I found genuinely funny. It’s not “Ice-T giving examples” funny but nice to see new material.

“Midwifery, sounds like an ugly girl on Downton Abbey”.

This episode definitely has something the pilot did not. Painful, Ben Stiller movie like awkwardness. Starting with Lou Cannon channeling his inner Richard Dawson. Cannon, who recently broke up with this girlfriend, is now treating the female contestants (and even female crew) as if they are willing participants in the game show, “Find Lou a New Girlfriend”.

A lovely little comedic device that I personally have not witnessed yet made its appearance tonight. The “We’re helping carry this heavy thing, but not really” shtick. Poor Andre. But onto a longer bit. With Andre carrying the new air conditioner up to the apartment, they need to get the old one out. Motif goes out on the terrace to push it through with his feet. Naturally, looking like a woman in stirrups trying to deliver a baby just as John’s new item, the Doula, shows up. Which then turns into a great interaction with the “Doula” treating Motif like an actual woman delivering an air conditioning unit.

Side note. The Doula, is played by Maria Thayer. She seemed very familiar to me. Maria Thayer starred in the made for TV movie “Annie Claus Comes to Town”. And yes, Annie Claus is exactly who you think it is. No actor or actress who played even a small role in any Christmas movie (big or small) will ever escape my gaze.

In another great Elliot Gould moment, Oscar suggests to John that he learn as much about childbirth as he can so that it is no worse than watching a friend get their hair cut. Gould 2 for 2 on stealing scenes by the way. So with the help of Motif and Jane, John begins learning everything he can about childbirth. From shedding to episiotomies. All of that is difficult but fine. Until they get their hands on a video of “the Miracle of Life”. Midway through, escalating the last bit involving Andre, Andre comes in carrying a couch in a box by himself thinking Jane and Motif and eventually John are helping when they are not. He set the box down, looks at the TV and says, “hey, those are my parents”. Andre the obnoxious grass dealer is the Miracle of Life baby.

The last scene starts out well enough. John has educated himself as much as possible to prepare himself for watching Amanda (the Doula) do her job. Or in other words John is going to attend a home water birth. He even comes off well-meaning and prepared when he mentions that he brought a container for the placenta.

Amanda: Well, you’re like a Doula apprentice.
John: Well, whatever helps to create a calm and serene atmosphere for the baby to enter. Nothing’s going to spoil this moment.
(Lou Cannon slides into frame sitting down front and center next to John)
Lou: Wow, a home birth. You know they come out real slimy. Not all cute like on Murphy Brown.
John: LOU. The worst thing that someone can do at a birth is panic, but I am very concerned that you are here.

The entire episode, John Mulaney has been worried that some turn of events at this delivery was going to be his undoing. The prospect that he might see something that would turn him squeamish and he would embarrass himself or Amanda. Turns out he had nothing to worry about. Well, at least pertaining to the birth. Lou decides to tell and then show John about the thing he and Mary Jo did together to solve his ‘release’ problem. Then seeing Lou naked and Mary Jo naked was enough to make him pass out. Into the pool the pregnant mother is sitting in that will retain all of her and her baby’s bodily fluids. And there lies John face down in the delivery pool.