The Strawberry Criterion: The Mulaney Pilot


The three best American stand-up comedians currently living are, in my opinion and deliberate order, Mike Birbiglia, Louis C.K., and John Mulaney, whose eponymous sitcom, Mulaney, premiered last night on FOX. Under no circumstances should you watch it. The pilot is a sweeping, consummate failure in every respect, from initial conception to final execution. Not since Important Things with Demetri Martin has a comic’s stand-up transferred so astoundingly poorly to television. Having endured the pilot’s entire 24-minute anti-laughter onslaught, I cannot stress the next four words enough: do literally anything else. Do not watch Mulaney. If you can’t think of anything to do instead, I’ll gladly assist you. Here are a few ideas.

You could, for instance, stare at a wall. Or stare at the ground. Or stare at the ceiling. Or stare at the ceiling then the ground then the wall. Or ground then wall then ceiling. You could very well close your eyes and stare at nothing at all. You could also fling yourself off the roof of a skyscraper. Or call your mother and tell her you love her. Or make a cheese sandwich. Or make any sandwich. You could make any sandwich and eat it, or you could make any sandwich and throw it out. You could, if you felt like it, climb into the garbage can with your thrown-out sandwich. You could wait for your significant other to take the trash out, hiding in the garbage can with your thrown-out sandwich. You could wait for the garbage truck to take you and your thrown-out sandwich to the dump, abandoning your significant other to a life of confused loneliness. You could move into the dump with your thrown-out sandwich, marry that sandwich in a church built out of compacted trash, and spend your honeymoon buried up to the neck in festering garbage, as happy as you’ve ever been. Or you could watch this clip from John Mulaney’s first comedy album, which is exactly infinity times funnier than the sum total of every joke in the pilot of Mulaney.

Or you could start a genocide. Or learn how to skateboard. Or you could start a genocide against people who want to learn how to skateboard. After that you could start an entirely different genocide, a genocide existing along ideological lines fundamentally opposed to those of your original genocide. You could start two concomitant genocides to realize your thirst for genocide better and fully. You could act as the homicidal leader of the first genocide, then you could act as the doubly homicidal leader of the second genocide. You could eventually convince the warring agents of your genocides to set aside their genocidal differences, embrace the unseen connection that exists between the factions as members of the greater human family, and unite the two genocides into one super genocide, which would, in eventuality, wipe every non-genocidal person off the face of the earth, until no one was left but the agents of your genocides. Then you could command your genocidal minions to kill one another, to leave no survivors, to eradicate the human race. You could watch–presumably from a throne made of baby skulls and precious gems–as your genocidal minions gruesomely murdered one another in every manner of violence imaginable, until you were the last living human being on earth. Then, having accomplished all the goals of your respective genocides, you could kill yourself. As long as you don’t watch Mulaney.

Or you could buy a puppy! Wouldn’t that be great? You could buy a puppy and pet it and love it. Eventually you could become so spiritually attached to this puppy that you can’t sleep without it, which is what you’ll tell the vet, twelve years after you first hug your puppy to your ecstatic chest, you could say, “I cannot sleep without my puppy,” as the vet compassionately euthanizes your puppy. Another fun thing you could do instead is abuse your puppy. You could beat it, isolate it, hold open its puppy eyes as you force it to watch videos of other puppies being tortured. You could imbue this puppy with a hate for humanity so profound it cannot be expressed in human speech, only in a dog’s wordless, consuming instinct. And when your puppy grew into a wrathful, vengeful dog you could sic it on yourself as you wore a bodysuit composed entirely of raw meat and live, squealing cats. You could let the vicious dog you’ve raised tear you to bloody shreds. You could think that you’d thank your dog if it hadn’t already ripped your tongue out of your mouth. You could thank your former puppy for making it impossible for you to watch Mulaney, because you now no longer have eyes, or ears, or a working central nervous system. You could die. You could be torn apart by your very own puppy. As long as you don’t watch Mulaney. Watch the below clip instead. Do literally anything else. Don’t watch Mulaney.

Final Strawberry Verdict: 1 out of 5 Strawberries