HJGRSDHHFESJGV: My night watching John Mulaney’s stand-up show
On Sept. 27, I received a screenshot of two available tickets to go see John Mulaney on Oct. 19. Mulaney, my personal gateway drug into the world of stand-up comedy. He’s an artist, a poet and an English major who will most likely live to do nothing formal with his degree—just like me! As people do when they are so excited they pee themselves a little and have to remove themselves from the presence of other humans, I shout-texted back, “PULL THE TRIGGER, PULL IT HJGRSDHHFESJGV.” An aggressive approach, but I got my point across. For some semblance of context, “HJGRSDHHFESJGV” roughly translates as “I am in the middle of brain-screaming, but you are really pretty, and I love you.” Needless to say, the trigger was pulled, the tickets were purchased and my Venmo balance was depleted. The anxiety-driven waiting period had begun.
Mulaney already has two stand-up specials available on Netflix: “The Comeback Kid” and “New in Town.” If you haven’t seen them, do yourself a favor, stop listening to me blabber and watch them, HJGRSDHHFESJGV! In these specials, Mulaney describes his Catholic upbringing, his unruly dog Petunia, his wife and a myriad of other topics. What really reeled me in about Mulaney’s comedy, in my dark days of high school, was his humble nature and sparse, but purposeful, use of profanity. Everything wasn’t about women being stupid, or dicks being funny or sex being sex. It was a candid take on his normal life. I would sit in the elevator, eating lunch with my two best friends, trying to throw our grapes into the grate on the ceiling, and we would spend that measly half-hour just repeating Mulaney’s bits back and forth to one another. For the sake of not ruining Mulaney’s jokes, I won’t try to retell them, like I often do with my friends and unwilling strangers, but know this: My mother watched his specials and said her stomach hurt from laughing. I think that’s the only review you need.
It was finally the night of the show. Mulaney was at the Peabody Theatre in St. Louis, and we had tickets to see him at 10 p.m. I ran to the women’s soccer locker room after a brutal practice, washed the turf off my body, clothed myself and called an Uber. The night had begun. After sitting in the wrong seats (OK, we didn’t purposefully steal the super-good-almost-center-front-row seats, we genuinely thought they were ours!) we were put in our place and sent to the side of the stage—still amazing seats—and proceeded to freak out in a different location.
Suddenly, Mulaney’s voluminous, goofy announcer voice came over the loud speaker, and Max Silvestri walked onto the stage. I know, what a plot twist. He, then, thanked us for the applause for John Mulaney’s voice. Which was accurate, and I appreciated the candor, since no one realized he was opening. Silvestri put on a good show. For someone I’d never heard of, and the sole person delaying me from seeing my idol in the flesh, he impressed me. I found myself after the show confusing his bits with Mulaney’s in my mind. Some jokes left me uncomfortable with myself, but they mostly followed in Mulaney’s footsteps, as I honestly didn’t think he was a complete dick in real life, and I appreciated that. But then, the main event walked onto the stage, relatively unannounced, and I felt like I had entered a dream world, wherein I jumped right into my own personal Netflix special.
Mulaney hit me hard in his “Kid Gorgeous” show. He touched on some topics that left me reeling. In the name of not leaking his jokes, I won’t get into the minutia, but when this show (most likely) becomes a Netflix special, it will garner more laughs from Wash. U. students than “Eclipse Memes for Post-Totality Tweens.” Which I guess is an unfair comparison, but you know what I mean. If you can’t wait for the new special and you’ve already seen the old ones, you can also hear his illustrious voice as a loveable middle school nerd in the Netflix original animated show “Big Mouth” and be accosted by puberty in raunchy cartoon form! I know that I’m basically shoving it in your face that I went to this show and you might not have, but don’t be too downtrodden. Mike Birbiglia, another stand-up love of mine, is coming to St. Louis on Dec. 10, and you can still get tickets. Sometimes, you just need a laugh and a HJGRSDHHFESJGV moment. These middle-aged white dudes will give that to you.