Mulaney Speaks Again

Mulaney Speaks Again April 28, 2023

Image: Netflix

Despite a rough few years, John Mulaney is back with another stand up special on Netflix. That rough two years included a divorce, intervention, and rehab (not in that order). And you’d better believe he mines two of those three things for material.

In fact, though I just watched it last night, I struggle to remember what he talked about other than the intervention and rehab. (I know there were a few bits not on these topics, but I’d have to turn to Google to find out what they were.) Despite broadly only dealing with two things, this special runs for an hour and twenty minutes, and it does not drag along the way. I don’t know that there are many stand up comedians I’d give 80 straight minutes to, and it’s a sign of Mulaney’s skill that he uses his time effectively and hilariously. This is a show worth your time.

That said, obviously on one level the subject matter isn’t funny. Because he’s talking about himself these stories land well, but it’s the sort of thing that would get uncomfortable quickly in any other setting and if told about anyone other than the person in question. That’s probably at least part of why his divorce/new relationship were left out, along with any moral consideration or religious reflection. Don’t go into this expecting to see much in the way of repentance, for example–Mulaney claims to be grateful to his friends for their intervention but beyond what we primarily get is observation without judgment. And hey, it’s a comedy special. The idea of forgiveness accomplished by someone in our place isn’t on the radar here.

That said, this is something you should watch both because it’s hilarious (let’s face it, stand up comedy that doesn’t accomplish that is failing, whatever other message it manages to convey) and because it lays the groundwork for the viewer to reflect on our obligations to those we know and love, as well as our personal responsibility for our own actions. Without meaning to (I assume–but Mulaney’s a sharp guy, so who knows?) Mulaney opens to the door for us to think about our standing in front of God and the world. And like Mulaney, as Christians when we’re being honest we should know that what we see isn’t pretty and needs someone else to intervene.

Dr. Coyle Neal is co-host of the City of Man Podcast an Amazon Associate (which is linked in this blog), and an Associate Professor of Political Science at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, MO

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