By Zafirah Mohamed Zein, News Correspondent
The preppy, easily funny John Mulaney gave Northeastern students, faculty and guests more than a few good laughs on Jan. 26 in Blackman Auditorium, as he performed a much-anticipated stand up comedy show organized by the Council for University Programs (CUP).
Similar to the acts that opened for him, Mulaney began by taking a stab at Boston’s winter, casually saying, “There’s always a vague sense of doom this time in the city.”
Mulaney, who inspired the character Stefon on Saturday Night Live (SNL), has performed on “Comedy Central Presents,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” He also co-created “I Love the 30s” and “All Access: Middle Ages” for Comedy Central and has several comedy albums such as “New in Town,” which has generated positive reviews.
The comedian followed with topics ranging from his childhood, his strict anti-Bill Clinton father, calls from strangers and using ghost stories as small talk at weddings. The audience laughed raucously. As the comedian moved around the stage, he gingerly held his microphone and belted out jokes that were authentic to experience and less aggressive than College Humor’s Steve Hofstetter, who performed directly before Mulaney.
Hofstetter, a favorite among college students entertained the audience impeccably with his wry humor and snarky yet amusing comments about popular TV shows “Extreme Makeover” and “Toddlers & Tiaras.”
“So I was on a plane with a bunch of tostitutes… I mean prostitutes,” the comedian began when recalling his experience of being stuck on a plane to Seattle with a group of young contestants and the mothers on the latter. The audience cracked up even more as he went on to detail his encounter with “Sky Bitch,” the flight attendant who disallowed him from having his pillow out during the flight.
Hofstetter did not hold back on his thoughts about having children, insisting that “raccoons really get abortions” and making it clear that he understood why. He rounded up his act with a few jokes about college students these days and the curriculum at Northeastern, suggesting that co-op was synonymous to half-time.
In comparison, Mulaney displayed a lack of the obscene language common in modern day humor, which made his jokes all the more novel.
“Everything about him is just amusing, from the way he stands to the way he tells a joke. I didn’t know him from SNL but I am definitely a fan of his now,” Suzie Kim, a freshman American Sign Language major, said.
Indeed, Mulaney made references to his behavior as he calls himself a “girly guy” when telling a story about his performance in front of an audience who booed him off the stage when he admitted that he had stopped drinking.
The comedian certainly has a knack for storytelling, garnering the loudest laughs of the night when he gave an account of his experience with Bill Clinton and the effect this had on his relationship with his father.
“Black coffee.” He told the audience that he went to a McDonald’s Drive-Thru with his father and siblings during his childhood. To the incredulity of his four children, Mulaney’s father ordered a single black coffee and stopped at that. This implication of his father’s attitude was brought up again when he told his father a few years later that he was a Clinton supporter.
“You have the moral backbone of a chocolate eclair,” Mulaney’s father said.
With jokes aimed at taking shots at his personal life and hilariously detached comments on the lives of others, he managed to be self-deprecating while also goofy, and loud while not obnoxiously funny.
After directing a series of questions at a guest from Salem State University about his choice of major, Mulaney paused and asked, “Do I come off as hostile?” The comedian could not be seen as less hostile as he portrayed genuine interest and amusement in his interaction with the audience.
The audience loved the spontaneous interaction. “It was cool that he interacted with random members of the audience. He can make anything appear funny or absurd,” Kim Barbosa, a guest from Berklee College of Music, said.
Fulfilling the expectation to be the “highlight of the night” as promised by Hofstetter, Mulaney certainly delivered and lived up to his SNL credentials. His hilarious imitations of a Cantonese woman from Grand Szechuan and sirens that sounded like “an old gay cat was dying” are sure to stay with his audience as they recall similar experiences.