Chaos, Coyotes & Palm Trees

John Mulaney’s pop-up Netflix show Everybody’s In L.A. is my absolute new favorite thing. If you’re not watching, you’re missing out on something special.

By Ernie Smith

I was worried about covering John Mulaney’s new pop-up talk show, despite how much I loved it, until I saw a tweet from Chris Gethard essentially giving the endeavor his nod of approval.

I feared that Gethard, famed for his own chaotic public-access-style show (which, notably, was at one point actually public access), might feel like he was being ripped off by the comedian with the bigger name and profile. So to see Gethard down with what Mulaney is pulling off with Everybody’s In L.A. makes me feel better about being a huge fan of this weird big-budget themed show that Mulaney is doing live on Netflix, a platform best known for producing content that isn’t designed to be watched live.

Based on what the team has produced here, I think Netflix has finally cracked the difficult-to-uncover live formula. After catching the first episode over the weekend, I watched the second episode live, and it somehow felt more magical in the live setting.

Mulaney’s show, themed around the conceit that outsiders don’t really understand Los Angeles, is weird and wacky in the best ways. The show has call-ins, like Gethard’s show did. It also has scripted pieces (notably sans laugh tracks) and man-on-the-street interviews. And the incidental music carries itself like a seedy softcore film for some weird reason. The result is a vibe unlike any other currently airing talk show.


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“We're only doing six episodes, so the show will never hit its groove,” Mulaney said at the start of the first episode. This is notable, given that perhaps the most legendary late-night star of the past 30 years, Conan O’Brien, was essentially forced to learn on the job and didn’t hit his groove until a year or two in.

But in a way, the lack of groove actually makes the show better. Mulaney struggling to keep the show on track for a one-hour airing appears to be a feature, not a bug, of this experience. Likewise, seeing comedic icons like Jerry Seinfeld and Jon Stewart struggle to wrap their heads around this thing that he’s built, while being asked questions about things they have no expertise in, like coyotes and palm trees, is an absolute delight. Mixing in actual experts and having them interact with comedians, forcing those comedians into a role where they can’t just talk about themselves or pitch their projects, is inspired. (Also, ace use of Richard Kind in the sidekick role—he very much feels like the Ed McMahon/Andy Richter hybrid that we’ve been looking for.)

But the thing is, Netflix’s massive budget is as much a character on this show as Mulaney, Kind, and whichever comedians they can bring to the table. It creates an environment in which Mulaney can just waste his corporate parent’s money in weird ways, not unlike what John Oliver does on Last Week Tonight, except far more lazily. For example, having a delivery robot give the guests drinks live on air is absolutely unnecessary, as is having a megastar like Andy Samberg or Will Ferrell just doing bits in character in the audience, but it is exactly the kind of stuff Netflix needs to do to stand out. I’m glad that Gethard sees it as homage, not as usurping.

Recently, I’ve been obsessed with Mulaney’s brand of comedy, and have been listening to the audio versions of his various standup shows as a sleep aid. Falling alseep to Mulaney talk about his star-studded intervention is weirdly magical. So this show honestly came at just the right time for me.

This show has haters—notably, a harsh review of the show on The A.V. Club absolutely saw all the things I described above as knocks on the show, rather than signs it’s goddamn amazing—but if you ask me, it is an example of the kind of stuff we see far too rarely on streaming.

Netflix has essentially usurped the role of HBO as the home for high-end comedy over the last decade, with its standup empire as broad as it is wide. (Mulaney’s special is timed to the Netflix is a Joke Festival, which assuredly helped him acquire the big-name comedic talent on this show.) But late-night comedy is one of the few forms of comedy that streaming doesn’t have an answer to.

Based on what Mulaney is doing here, they’re very close to cracking that nut.

Unscripted Links

I thought about covering this Semafor interview with New York Times executive editor Joe Kahn, but ultimately decided not to. I just think that the lesson we should all take from this is that the New York Times chooses its front-page stories based on reasons other than their news value. May Kahn’s reputation never recover from this interview.

Upgradeable laptop RAM finally got an upgrade, with the LPCAMM2 standard emerging this week thanks to iFixit. We’ve written about CAMM in the past, and it appears they’ve managed to shrink down the installation process considerably since that initial Dell-centric play.

I really enjoyed this Retronauts episode on the history of emulation, featuring none other than Wes Fenlon of the great Read Only Memo newsletter and my pal Zophar.


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Ernie Smith

Your time was just wasted by Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the editor of Tedium, and an active internet snarker. Between his many internet side projects, he finds time to hang out with his wife Cat, who's funnier than he is.

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