‘John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in LA’ Review: Netflix Live Special Reinvents the Late Night Format

An outstanding lineup of guests and performers like Jerry Seinfeld and St. Vincent bolster the comedian’s anarchic take on chat shows

John Mullaney Everybody's in LA
John Mullaney Everybody's in LA (Netflix)

Comedian John Mulaney hit the ground running tonight with his newest Netflix special, “John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in L.A.” A quirky, live-streamed love letter to Los Angeles built around a quasi late night talk show, the series was unapologetically wacky. It’s abundantly clear after just the first episode that Netflix should look into making Mulaney a permanent late night talk show host.  

He’s that good and the eccentric show he’s built is delightfully nonsensical.

Mulaney, known for his work on “Saturday Night Live,” is a talent Netflix has spent years placing in the spotlight through projects like “John Mulaney: New in Town,” “John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid,” “John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City,” “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch,” and “John Mulaney: Baby J.”

“Everybody’s in LA” might be the funniest show he’s delivered to the streamer.

The series — taking advantage of the “Netflix is a Joke” festival happening Los Angeles through May 12 to book a roster of comedy legends and up-and-comers who are normally harder to corral than cats — is deliberately short, topping out at just six episodes, with the remaining five streaming live next week from Monday May 6 through May 10. 

And we do mean legends. This first episode — entitled “Coyotes” — featured Jerry Seinfeld, paired in a very Johnny Carson-esque way with Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife founding co-director Tony Tucci (not related to Stanley). Other guests included Natasha Leggero, Chelsea Peretti, Ray J, Will Ferrell, Fortune Feimster, Stavros Halkias, and a musical performance by St. Vincent.

The show takes a simple yet zany approach: Mulaney presented his audience with a parodic yet realistic take on Los Angeles, as many of his comedian friends joined in on the fun. Meanwhile, heavy (ish) topics were juxtaposed with satires of some of LA’s more well established cliches.

It began with a particularly inspired pop culture riff, opening credits modeled on 1980s TV shows, with various Los Angeles landmarks set to Wang Chung’s title song for the 1985 film “To Live and Die in L.A.” expertly setting the tone.

Comedian and actor Richard Kind, serving as Mulaney’s trusty announcer, added his own unique gravity to the absurdity. The duo played the ridiculous premise straight, treating issues such as coyote aggression, or robot delivery services, with a deadly seriousness while Mulaney joked repeatedly about the highs and lows of being in L.A., the current weather situation, and the city’s history.

That included harsh burns on Beverly Hills and the LA metro, as well as constant acknowledgements that the show is absolutely flying by the seat of its pants. Mulaney kicked things off by making the audience aware that it might never actually be good, and later powered through an awkward moment by quipping to the camera from a makeshift living room set with undeniable confidence, “One thing about this show is…that it’s great.”

With Seinfeld and Tucci joining Mulaney in the living room, the show transitioned into a familiar late-night talk show vibe, where Mulaney asked the “Unfrosted” director and the animal activist questions related to episode’s theme: coyotes.

Obviously, as Mulaney repeatedly noted, Coyotes are a familiar sight around Los Angeles and a city-wide topic of conversation. And appropriately, a feature of the show — remember, it actually is live — is that Mulaney took calls from viewers who shared their own, perhaps dubious stories involving coyotes. And just as an aside, we’re impressed he managed to get a 323 area code for the call-in number.

There was also a pre-recorded sketch inspired by HGTV real estate shows set in Van Nuys. Will Ferrell also showed up, portraying legendary record producer Lou Adler. And Mulaney interviewed actor and artist Ray J, who he called “the Black Forrest Gump.”

It was never predictable, and often uncertain, but it was consistently hilarious and Mulaney more than justifies the calls for him to host the Oscars that followed his brief appearance at this year’s ceremony.

Though some of the bits fell flat — Seinfeld and Ferrell really went hard on jokes based on Mulaney’s very public battle with substance abuse, something that Mulaney handled with very visible grace — the show was a cracking reinvention of the late-night talk show format that utilized Mulaney’s brand of comedy, and made his sarcasm about the city of Los Angeles feel both inspirational and punchy.

Mulaney’s obvious comfort with hosting, fantastically coiffed hair and quick wit in front of a live studio audience more than overcame any hiccups the unconventional concept and live production might otherwise have saddled the show with. More off-the-wall than “Watch What Happens Live” and something of a thought-provoking “The Tonight Show,” “John Mulaney Presents: Everybody’s in L.A.” is such a fun ride that 60 minutes wasn’t enough for one episode. Here’s to the next five.

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