John Mulaney “From Scratch” Stand-Up Review

Story posted September 26, 2022 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Emily McGlynn

*This article contains topics of abuse, drugs, and suicide that could trigger some readers. Read at your own discretion.*

Guess who’s new in town? Not John Mulaney! On Sunday, the multi-talented household comedian came to Happy Valley, not Napa Valley, to perform at the Bryce Jordan Center.

Alongside him to open the show were Seaton Smith and Dan Levy. Both comedians were on Mulaney’s 1 season sitcom “Mulaney.” Smith and Levy gave a 15-minute routine that left many jaws on the floor from disturbing one-liners but later left people rolling on the floor.

Smith mainly joked about the abuse that he has encountered in his life. He liked to engage with the audience and ask people how people’s parents abused them as children. As many can tell, Smith likes his dark humor and many agreed during his set. He has a likable personality and anything he said, people would laugh at. What a good way to deal with the trauma…

Levy talked about several things, however, it was a memorable set. He knows how to capture an audience’s attention. Constantly walking back and forth across the stage and knowing when to put emphasis on certain words is the formula for entertainment success for Levy. He discussed dad life, how to still have sexy time with his wife, and why glasses people should never take theirs off.

Levy also mentioned that he was fired from helping write “How I Met Your Father.” He exposed the ending and gossiped a little more. He loves a good juicy discussion.

The openers set the stage beautifully for what the audience was about to hear. They kept it more light-hearted in the beginning because Mulaney was about to completely squash it.

Any avid Mulaney fan would know that this tour, “From Scratch,” is the darkest set anyone has seen from him. However, he has never been so raw about anything before. Before dissecting his set, Mulaney has a dark yet intellectual observational humor. He doesn’t talk about his hot takes and keeps it classy. Somehow talking about Putin, going to rehab, and hoping for his grandparents to die still fall under all of those adjectives.

The BJC roared for him as he entered the stage. Mulaney said he had only been to Penn State one other time and it was in a classroom and that the arena is way better.

He started his act by talking about Russia and rambling about the Space Race. A “Beauty and the Beast” reference was made during his Russia bit and asked the audience to ‘be his guest’ in attempting to name a good example about the Russian government.

Now to the expected part of his set, he discussed his drug problem, intervention, rehab experience, and what life has been like after getting sober. Twelve people were involved in his intervention. Mulaney made several jokes that his intervention was a ‘star-studded’ group.

He mentioned Seth Myers, Nick Kroll, Bill Hadar, and Natasha Lyonne. Kroll was the one who was the harshest and Mulaney kept joking that he accidentally was not put on the email about being gentle toward him.

Mulaney went into depth about his rehab experience and how Pete Davidson, another phenomenal comedian, was worried about him.

Davidson changes his number often and Mulaney likes to assign fake celebrity names to his contact. One day in rehab, ‘Al Pacino’ called and the audience was the loudest during this bit. It was hilarious.

Don’t want to give too much away, but this performance was surprising and confounding. If anyone has the opportunity to see Mulaney, buy the ticket and go. He has the charm to persuade anyone to listen to him and get them to relate to him.

He used to be funny with his body on stage, but this time around he’s calmer. However, he does not need to be like that anyway. His iambic pentameter is perfection.

One random thing to note, he did not allow phones, cameras, or recording devices in the BJC. Understandably so people don’t upload his jokes to the internet and every person that see him is receiving the same experience.

During security, they gave out locked pouches that people put their phones in. Only security people could open and close them. This way, people could not use their phones in any capacity.

There was a screen flashing his merch, the no phone policy, and especially the no heckling policy. There was only one heckler and he handled it like a true professional.

He asked them kindly to not ruin the show for everyone and to listen to his well-thought-out jokes. He was able to get her name and poke fun at her throughout the night and the audience loved it. That’s the kind of person and comedian Mulaney is.

Hopefully “From Scratch” will be recorded as a Netflix special soon so the world can laugh but also be exposed to more difficult subjects like addiction.

Emily McGlynn is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email