‘John Mulaney: From Scratch’ brings back live comedy performances


Photo by Sylvain Gaboury and Patrick McMullan

John Mulaney returns to fans and the stage and shares his personal journey.

Alexis Sinistovic, Contributing Writer

Fans waited a long 18 months since the start of the pandemic for the ability to experience their favorite artists, performers and comedians back on a real stage. For the devoted fans of the stand-up comedian, actor, writer and producer John Mulaney, that wait was made significantly harder when the news of him re-entering rehab broke in December. After months of battling a drug addiction and what he claims was a “star-studded” intervention held at an old friend’s house, Mulaney agreed to rehab, but not without tapping into his natural sense of humor and cracking a few jokes for his worried audience first. My friends and I consider ourselves incredibly lucky to have been his next audience for these jokes, happily and safely in-person at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts to see “John Mulaney: From Scratch.” 


The show opened with up-and-coming comedian and actor Ricky Velez, regaling the audience with tales of fatherhood and European robberies. Velez, who started shooting his own HBO special in August, performed his set for about half an hour, each second of which the crowd was all fully engaged. Velez, like many comedians, relies on real-world occurrences as the premise of his jokes, but unlike most, he takes it to a level at which it feels so real sometimes it is hard to be sure if you are allowed to laugh or not. One of the most memorable jokes told by Velez that night was about being robbed in Europe. The setup was simple and definitely threw you off track forthe punchline. He was determined to convince his audience that you too think the same slightly dark, madly uncomfortable and yet absolutely hilarious things he had the courage to say out loud. 

The audience was all suspended in anticipation for the moment when John Mulaney took the stage.. It felt like magic being in a stadium chair, bumping elbows with the friends you arrived with and laughing aloud when surrounded by complete strangers. Mulaney used this excitement of just being able to be there to be completely candid with the audience. He has been not only blessed with a second chance at his career, but also with the raw and natural talent to continue talking about “touchy” topics in a way that felt personable. Sitting in the audience you would not have felt like a fangirl but an old friend catching up with the comedian. Mulaney expertly told the audience the realities of rehab and drug addiction, while simultaneously making everyone laugh hysterically. There is so much to be said about what Mulaney was able to achieve that night. Yet nothing would compare to how invitingly surreal it was to hear a real story, in a real stadium, and real laughter while enjoying the company of the other 10,000 people next to you.