“Saturday Night Live” has produced an incredible number of talented comedians, from early stars such as Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy and John Belushi, to more recent favorites such as Tina Fey, Amy Poehler and Andy Samberg. But it’s easy to forget that there are people who work behind the scenes — such as in the writers’ room, where John Mulaney got his start in comedy. Now, years after his retirement from “Saturday Night Live,” Mulaney is still a frequent stand-up comedian with two Netflix specials. The first of which, his 2012 stand-up set New In Town, was incredibly well-received by both critics and viewers alike, finally launching Mulaney into the spotlight.
The Comeback Kid, following Mulaney’s last special by three years, has big shoes to fill. New In Town is one of the highest rated comedy specials on Netflix, and jokes from this set have been reproduced and revered all over the internet since 2012. Fortunately, The Comeback Kid exceeds these expectations with hysterical anecdotes and hilarious punchlines that leave the audience and the viewers roaring with laughter.
Mulaney’s classic boyish charm is ever-present in his new special, a perfect match for his tendency toward a lighter subject matter and unabashed storytelling. The Comeback Kid tells the stories of his life since his last special, including his new marriage and house-hunting experiences. He later talks about when he was a temp with an eccentric boss and road trips with his family, the latter tale an opportunity to introduce his hilarious hard-ass of a father. The comic’s father again returns as the hero of Mulaney’s set when he makes a guest appearance in the story of when John Mulaney met Bill Clinton as a child.
Perhaps the best part of Mulaney’s comedic style is his bold physicality. No story is complete without loud hand gestures to make a point or the shimmy of his shoulders to encapsulate the “fun mom” energy of his real-estate agent. This physical energy, combined with his hilarious descriptions of the situations, paints a picture of some almost unbelievable stories.
While The Comeback Kid is almost identical in style to New In Town, it works for this comic — Mulaney knows what he’s doing. His candid storytelling and deadpan attitude are an unparalleled combination of comedic genius while his style is somehow more refined than the style of any of his comedic peers. This Netflix special is one of the most well-executed and genuinely funny stand-up specials of its time, and it distinctly conveys Mulaney’s comedic talent and charming personality — a sign that the comic won’t be leaving the spotlight any time soon.