The opening chords of David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” blared, and audience chatter quickly dissolved into thunderous applause as comedian John Mulaney leapt onto the stage of Procter and Gamble Hall in Cincinnati.
Mulaney, a former writer for “Saturday Night Live,” is well known for his past stand-up specials “The Top Part,” “New in Town” and “The Comeback Kid.” He recently wrapped up a 15-week run of “The Oh, Hello Show” on Broadway with Nick Kroll, which is also available on Netflix.
He was in Cincinnati on Friday as a part of his “Kid Gorgeous” tour. The original 7 p.m. show sold out so quickly that a 10 p.m. show was added a few weeks ago.
Mulaney dressed sharply in a charcoal gray suit which flashed an emerald lining whenever the comedian got active during a bit, like when he pretended to beat Grandpa George from “Charlie and the Chocolate factory” with Mrs. Bucket’s laundry spoon.
Mulaney did a phenomenal job of filling the large stage by himself by acting out different bits as he told them. He also used different voices when telling a joke with multiple characters, helping to create more of a one-man show rather than a traditional stand-up set.
His physical animations were paired nicely with his deadpan deliveries. Mulaney satirically poked fun at everything from grade school stranger danger assemblies, to the time he had to write a song with Mick Jagger.
He even stopped his set to call out two audience members near the front who got up to use the bathroom. When the pair was out of the theater, he unplugged his microphone and organized a prank with the audience.
He arranged it so that when he said, “Well you know what they say in Cincinnati,” the audience would respond with, “we want milkshakes!”
The two audience members who had been in the bathroom were dumbfounded when the random exchange took place, much to Mulaney’s delight.
Unlike many comics today, Mulaney chose to leave politics out of his set for the most part.
“I never cared much about politics…but then in November the strangest thing happened,” joked Mulaney.
He went on to equate our nation’s current political state to having a horse loose in a hospital. Without mentioning names of any political figures, he explained that no one knew what would happen next because horses didn’t belong in hospitals and no one had ever seen anything like it before.
Mulaney joked that the only thing worse than a horse in a hospital was a hippo 5,000 miles away with a nuclear bomb.
There were a few aspects to his set that could use some fine-tuning. His transitions from one joke to the next were not as seamless as they were in “The Comeback Kid,” and there seemed to be less of a calculated balance between a quick joke and the more thoughtful, observation-based stories.
This tour featured some of Mulaney’s trademark bits, with a tasteful amount of self-deprecating humor, highlighting some of his awkward physical qualities and personality quirks. He also chose to pick apart the absurdities of the film “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,” similar to past bits he has done about “Back to the Future” and “Home Alone 2.”
His language and subject matter, possibly because this was not a taped special, was crasser than in the past. However, he was careful to find a balance between clean and dirty material and did not rely on crudeness to create the humor.
Overall, Mulaney did not disappoint with “Kid Gorgeous.” His notorious sharp wit created hilarious and relatable observational comedy, with detailed lead-ups that made for better punchlines. His timing and tone were always spot on, helping to reel the audience in even more. Additionally, his minimal reliance on political humor proved that Mulaney is fully capable of keeping it fresh without straying from his wheelhouse.