Comedy

Set of the year? Stand-up John Mulaney throws down one to remember at Mirage

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We want milkshakes: Mulaney’s edgy set captivated his first Mirage audience.
Bill Hughes
Jason Harris

Four stars

John Mulaney March 6, Mirage.

Perhaps it was because it was his first show in Las Vegas. Perhaps it was because he was four-walling and had to prove he’s a legitimate Strip headliner. Perhaps he had a little extra edge since his critically panned sitcom, Mulaney, is on the verge of cancellation (“My wife and I just bought a house, because we don’t know how the TV business works.”). Whatever the reason, John Mulaney, in the middle of March, staked his claim as the man to beat in town for the set of the year.

Making fun of the location, the Terry Fator Theater and its namesake, the native Chicagoan and former SNL writer quipped, “I’m going to be killed later tonight by a couple of puppets and buried out in the desert. Then they’ll kill the puppets so they don’t talk to the cops.”

His original slants on Vegas continued when a man left to use the bathroom and Mulaney told the audience that much later in the show, he would say, “You know what they say about Vegas ...”

Instead of some lame take on “What happens in Vegas,” he instructed the crowd to yell out, “We want milkshakes” for the sole purpose of confusing the mid-show pee breaker. The payoff was worth the wait.

Speaking of urinating, Mulaney, who often gets compared to Jerry Seinfeld, showed his similar precision in joke writing when demanding that people stop assuming one has wet himself when he accidentally gets water on his pants, “No one anywhere is peeing in their pants and then just, like, going about their day as planned. ‘I fully peed in my pants to completion. I don’t know how that happened, but I have appointments. I must soldier on. I’ll sure get a lot more done now that I don’t have to go to the bathroom anymore.’”

The high point might have been his take on how Back to the Future was pitched. After the executive learns of the time machine, he chimes in, “They go back in time and they stop the Kennedy assassination,” to which the creators, who never considered this option, respond, “We thought it would be funny and fun if the boy goes back in time and tries to f*ck his mom.”

Mulaney showed off an array of skills: handling hecklers, riffing with the crowd, tagging long stories at every turn. Forget the circumstances. Perhaps the show was so good because John Mulaney is just that good right now.

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