From Scratch: John Mulaney’s return to stand-up comedy


Zaynah Shah

While performing his nationwide From Scratch stand-up tour, Mulaney stopped at the SAP Center in San Jose.

Zaynah Shah, Page Editor

Emmy winning comedian John Mulaney has returned to the stage following his time in rehab. Now sober, he is able to look over these memories and deliver his newest stand-up piece From Scratch, highlighting his struggles, revelations and growth throughout the two past years. 

The nationwide tour began on March 11 and will hit over 50 different cities through September. 

The show

Opening with a tone-dead but jazzy a cappella number, Mulaney struts across the stage summarizing his last two years, assuring the audience that everyone’s lives were turned upside down during the pandemic. 

From a divorce to a drug intervention, and the birth of his and Olivia Munn’s son, Malcolm, the former SNL writer had quite a bit to share.

Elaborating on the events of his personal intervention, Mulaney tells of how he arrived two hours late, after visiting his drug dealer’s apartment and stopping to get a haircut at the SNL make-up department. Having left his intervention that night externally proclaiming that he was the funniest person in the room, Mulaney checked into rehab for the next two months swearing that the January 6th insurrection would have never happened on his watch.

He recalls the days of his childhood, when the use of substances was still present, and spending time with his two best friends John and John. Mulaney alludes to some of his past bits, such as his infamous rivalry with Delta Airlines and his accidental prostate exam due to a desire for Xanax.

As the show arrives at its end, Mulaney leaves the audience with two pieces of advice. The first is a reflection on his most recent experiences where he explains that happiness can only come from within. Secondly, and most importantly, he encourages us to not vape. 

Uniquely San Jose

Opening acts Seaton Smith and Ricky Velez, both friends of Mulaney’s, provided warm introductions to the show and immediately put the audience at ease. When the time came for Mulaney to perform, the crowd was eager to continue laughing and finally see the man of the night.

Perusing through the temporary stage in the middle of the SAP Center’s dormant hockey rink floor, Mulaney begins his introductions stating that he had never performed in San Jose and thought it ironic to have a show in the San Jose Sharks stadium without all the ice. 

After explaining his personal experiences, Mulaney asks the audience if any of them have been to rehab for addiction problems. The comedian ropes in Charles, an unsuspecting audience member who gives the arena a thrill ride through his own teenage alcohol problems that were enough to shock both the crowd and Mulaney.

Mulaney delivers an awkwardly performed joke about his hate for various chicken dishes: a piece that he had supposedly come up with earlier that day. Whether or not Mulaney had actually come up with this joke prior to the San Jose show, the audience welcomed the comedian’s hate for chicken delfraissy with a few shaky laughs and a bit of confusion.

Personal thoughts 

As a fan of Mulaney’s since the beginning of the pandemic, I went in confident that I would have more than an entertaining time. Seeing every quirk on his face and crease in his clothes as he walked was an absolutely surreal and incredible experience.

Mulaney connects with the audience by making fun of himself while drawing on qualities and memories that every person attending could attest to at some point in their life. What I found incredibly respectful of Mulaney’s performance was that he never delivered any crazy stories about his ex-wife that were critical of her or their old relationship.

Having already seen his SNL monologue from February earlier this year, I was expecting to see some of the material repeated on his tour. From the monologue, Mulaney pulled stories of his son in the delivery room and details from his intervention that he dived deeper into during this show.

Every quip and short pause left the crowd roaring with laughter, only heightening the giddy excitement that permeated through the arena. From what I was able to gather, those familiar to the world of comedy are welcoming Mulaney back with open arms and are always excited to see what he does next.

For more about Mulaney, check out his transcribed GQ interview. Highlighting this transcription at the end of his performance, Mulaney jokes about his experiences while simultaneously showing his immense personal growth over the last two years.