John Mulaney's 'Everybody's in L.A.' Is as Chaotic and Confusing as the City Itself

Hosted by John Mulaney

Starring Richard Kind, Jerry Seinfeld, Jon Stewart, Flea, Bill Hader, David Letterman, Sarah Silverman, George Wallace, Patton Oswalt, Cedric the Entertainer, Pete Davidson, Hannah Gadsby, John Carpenter

Photo: Ryan West / Netflix

BY Alex HudsonPublished May 16, 2024


Hosting a talk show famously takes a little while to get right. Comedians like Seth Meyers and Conan O'Brien took months or even years to get over their initial stiffness, meaning that it's a bit ambitious for John Mulaney to launch his own talk show with a limited six-episode run. As he says himself early on in Everybody's in L.A., the show is bound to end just as it's getting going.

That prediction may have been a bit optimistic, since Mulaney never perfects the format across these six messy, uncomfortable and occasionally hysterical episodes, which were live-streamed on Netflix. Mulaney is pretty much at the pinnacle of the stand-up world these days, but his other projects have been a little more mixed in quality. (Remember his short-lived 2014 sitcom Mulaney? No, I don't either.)

It makes perfect sense, then, that the most polished bit of Everybody's in L.A. is the few minutes of masterful stand-up that kicks off the first episode. Once Mulaney brings out his guests, things go a little off the rails.

The show attempts to reinvent the talk show format; rather than bringing out people one at a time for interviews, Mulaney invites guests out in batches, eventually forming a panel of four or five guests who sit around a set modelled after a '70s living room.

It quickly becomes clear why other shows don't do this: Jerry Seinfeld stomps all over the conversation in premier episode "COYOTES" and barely lets anyone else get a word in, while other guests throughout the run (including Tom Segura and Nate Bargatze ) are too soft-spoken to effectively participate in a group conversation. Many of the guests don't live in Los Angeles, and understandably don't have much to contribute to comedic discussions about the issues facing the city — like when Australian comic Hannah Gadsby attempts to push back against the mayor's sunny optimism but doesn't really have a clear point to make.

On the other hand, sometimes the rapport between guests yields gold. Jon Stewart and sustainability expert Amanda Begley have fantastic chemistry in the second episode, "PALM TREES," while Luenell hilariously cozies up to David Letterman in the fifth episode, "EARTHQUAKES."

The sketches that break up interview segments are almost uniformly terrible, with many of them adopting reality TV formats despite being clearly scripted — such as a gag where Tina Fey and Amy Poehler fans are disappointed when they're introduced to Patton Oswalt, which might work as Borat-style cringe humour if only the participants weren't clearly actors. The same goes for when Mulaney and Nick Kroll revive their comedy duo The Oh, Hello Show and torment a tour guide who is, once again, obviously in on the joke. A faux stand-up set from the character Waingro from 1995's Heat feels like an inside joke that's very funny to approximately three people. Andy Samberg is a rare bright spot of these sketches, appearing as businessman (and NBA courtside staple) James Goldstein, whose affectations are funny even for those of us who don't know who Goldstein is.

There's a chaotic quality to Everybody's in L.A. that's both the show's charm and what holds it back from greatness. In the final episode, "THE FUTURE OF L.A.," Mulaney organizes a contest in which two audience members go on a city-wide hunt to find Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea — a funny idea that goes absolutely nowhere and is completely abandoned by the second half of the episode. There are phone-in guests who deliver comic gold, and others who get essentially ignored by the on-screen comedians before Mulaney abruptly hangs up on them. There's a tension that pervades even the best moments, as it's clear that the whole thing might fall flat at any moment. Everybody's in L.A. is undeniably a big swing — and, as SNL has continually revealed over the years, the tightrope walk of live comedy is inherently a mixed bag.

Occasionally, the guests can't help but point out how badly it's going — like when Patton Oswalt notes that Mulaney's decision to perform an entire episode in sunglasses has sapped the energy out of the room, or when Nikki Glaser says that the show is essentially a podcast.

Everybody's in L.A. might point the way forward — both for streaming services doing live events, and for Mulaney branching out as a comedian. These six hour-long episodes now preserved on Netflix, however, feel more like a proof-of-concept than a finished product.


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