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John Mulaney’s Kid Gorgeous: Same Old Jokes, Strong Performance

By James Treuthardt

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Comedy has the greatest impact when it hits close to home. In comedian John Mulaney’s new show, Kid Gorgeous, he manages to blend the nostalgia of his youth with the issues he faces today, revealing humorous insights about the way he views the world.


Mulaney, a Georgetown graduate and past Saturday Night Live writer, follows his two previous comedy shows, New in Town and The Comeback Kid, with his third major production. As someone who has not seen any of Mulaney’s past shows, coming to this one was an interesting experience as I was unaware of his general comedic style.


While the jokes never truly transcend the observational comedy format, his strong stage presence, timing, and vocal skill help the jokes shine. He moves from bits about ghost children, assemblies, his wife, his dog Petunia, college, and his time working on SNL flawlessly.


Mulaney delivers each and every joke with a passion and energy you don’t often see in comedy. Mulaney is not low-key or understated. He flies from joke to joke, moving all over the stage and throwing his body into each joke as he acts them out in real time. When recounting the advice a stranger-danger instructor gave him during a school assembly, Mulaney didn’t just tell us the advice the speaker gave, he showed us. He acted out each and every weird tactic he was told to use to protect himself.


His vocal skill adds to each joke as well as he impersonates each and every person or object in the scene. Pitch perfect impressions of police sirens and Mick Jagger contribute to two very funny jokes, and his impersonations of his wife, his mother, and other individuals in his life add humor to the typical “my crazy family” jokes. He doesn’t tell the audience what his wife says, he brings her into the scene. He has a conversation with her, helping the jokes feel less like stand-up and more like a one-man play.


However, not everything in the show was perfect. The first half of it relies heavily on childhood nostalgia, which is funny, but never works as well in terms of relatability. We don’t all share the experiences he recounts, somewhat lessening a few of the bits. When he shifts over to modern day issues in the second portion of the show, the jokes became a lot better as he speeds through bits. My favorite one in particular was the one about the Trump Administration being like a “horse in a hospital.” In my opinion, the more topical and recent bits work better.


Further, the show also ends quite abruptly, leaving me feeling a little underwhelmed. There was no build-up to an amazing punchline or point about his life. The show just kind of ends suddenly as Mulaney thanks us and walks off the stage. I wish there had been a bit more of a big finish, but what came before made up for that.


Overall, while Mulaney never really transcends new ground in comedy, his eclectic personality and energy help create a hilarious show that’s worth checking out.