Published Sep 22, 2017Brooklyn comic Max Silvestri opened this JFL42 headlining show with a smart set that played off his lefty political leanings to skewer white privilege and his discomfort with hanging out with straight men his age. "When a bunch of straight men are in a room and someone says 'Shut the door,' nothing good has ever happened." An extended chunk about how living very close to an elementary school had impacted his sexual identity was daringly funny, and he pull it off with charming efficacy.
John Mulaney bounded on stage without an introduction and commented that he was feeling under the weather, but none of that showed over an almost 90-minute set. The sharp-dressed comic has grown into his traditional suit-and-tie, well-groomed presentation now that he's in his 30s; he seems less like a high schooler playing dress-up. His material has matured as well; this "Kid Gorgeous" tour is almost completely devoid of current events-inspired material, showcasing instead a timeless storytelling approach that fits his stylish presentation. Squint and he could be doing a set in nearly any era, for a gang of mobsters in '60s Las Vegas or at an upscale resort in '80s Miami.
Mulaney demonstrated a physical exuberance — running and kicking dramatically across the large Sony Centre stage — than in previous Toronto appearances. His extended chunk about how the room reminded him of school assemblies led to a brilliant examination of the inappropriate presentations given to small children, particularly graphic ones from police officers given to 12-year-olds.
The timelessness of his material extended to most of the set with only a couple of exceptions. He nodded to his comedy writing past with stories about Mick Jagger hosting Saturday Night Live, and the confidence with which a 50-year rock star moves through the world with strong, declarative statements. And his analogy about the U.S. President being akin to a horse let loose in a hospital — all without mentioning the toxic orange popsicle by name — was particularly strong.
The John Mulaney of five years ago came across like a multi-talented hyphenate who could use standup comedy as a springboard to other writing and acting pursuits — and that's certainly true, especially given the Broadway run of his Oh, Hello show with Nick Kroll — but "Kid Gorgeous" is Mulaney utilizing all his talents toward being the best standup comedian he can, not of his era but in history. He's not quite there yet but he can see it from here.