The Arts

John Mulaney at The Palace

John Mulaney at The Palace

A tall lanky figure leapt across the stage of The Palace and landed in front of the microphone stock straight, like a gymnast sticking a gold medal landing.

“Hellooo Alban-ayyyy!” exclaimed the characteristic nasally voice of John Mulaney. The comedian has built up a huge following in recent years, known for his writing on Saturday Night Live, production work in projects like Documentary Now! and his role in television comedy shows such as Comedy Central’s Kroll Show. The sketch comedy show popularized Mulaney’s character Mr. George St. Geeland–alongside comedian Nick Kroll as Gil Faizon–on the sketch “Too Much Tuna,” in which two elderly men from Upper Manhattan “prank” guests on their public access show by giving them “far too much tuna” on their deli sandwich. The sketch gained such a cult following the show’s untimely demise that the pair produced a Broadway show, giving fans a peek into the daily lives and struggles of St. Geeland and Faizon. The show ran for 138 performances at the Lyceum Theater with a Netflix special featuring Steve Martin.

For the 9:30 showing of the Kid Gorgeous special, Mulaney performed as himself, exhibiting the boyish charm of his hapless stand-up persona. Like his previous shows, he walks the audiences through awkward and unfortunate series of events throughout his life. Watching him perform on stage, one can imagine him telling the same cringe-worthy childhood stories while at the dinner table, his mannerisms–in equal parts–nonchalant and baffled by the unfolding events. He screamed and he whined, crafting caricature impersonations of the crazed adults of his childhood with expert delivery.

Mulaney excelled in crowd play. He had such an entertaining conversation with 9-year-old audience member named Quinn about hobbies and stranger danger that he became a central part of the show. The comedian regularly checked in with Quinn to see if he agreed with his points and motioned for him to cover his ears when a sex joke was coming up.

As much as Mulaney channels the happy-go-lucky observer, he is quick to bite. Ridiculing religion, politics and everyday annoyances with outrageous similes that will have you in tears.

In fact, it took him all of two minutes to roast the capital city in his praise of The Palace. “This theater is beautiful,” he said, “and then you go outside and… ‘oh.’” The crowd erupted in laughter as he likened the theater’s presence in Albany to “a pair of cufflinks on a guy who just shit his pants.”

He was able to rake our current president over the coals without uttering the “T” word, likening his presence in the White House to a “horse in a hospital.” It was a refreshing to have a figurative break from hearing about the political minefield while still taking a crack at it.

There’s a good reason fans lined up around the block to see Mulaney tell some stories. They’re absurd and hilarious, and we’d happily do it again.

John Mulaney, Thursday July 27 at 9:30 PM, The Palace, Albany

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