By Taneen Momeni
John Mulaney thrilled students and community members at the Xfinity Center with his UMD-tailored set for the annual Homecoming Comedy Show, presented by Student Entertainment Events, on Oct. 30.
The stand-up comedian, writer and actor attracted around 7,000 people, with audience members lining up two hours before the show. Comedian Seaton Smith opened the show with a more traditional set, sticking to anecdotes and jokes, with some audience participation. On the contrary, Mulaney’s set involved a lot of audience participation and small conversations with individual members of the audience.
“I think it speaks volumes that his crowd work generated tons of memes after the show,” senior finance major Jonah Gordon said. “He’s just such a master of his craft at this point he was able to seamlessly move in and out of crowd work and his set.”
Mulaney started his set joking about College Park’s name and how when describing where he was going, it sounded like he was lying and made up the name of a city that holds a university named after its state. Soon after, he called out a member of the audience for wearing shorts in the heavy rain and continued to poke fun at the audience member after learning that the student majored in materials engineering.
As he frequently does in his Netflix specials, Mulaney spoke about his wife, then sprinkled in new material about the Diamondback, being mistaken for The Flash actor Grant Gustin, the Constitution and more.
Mulaney spent a good portion of his set reading and commenting on articles in the Diamondback, focusing on the noise complaint ordinance in College Park and a profile of the High Five Guy. He joked about the new definition of a social gathering that increased the number of people from four to eight and students registering to vote in order to “have the right to party,” said by one audience member to Mulaney.
“The fact that he was reading the Diamondback made me feel included,” freshman music education and percussion performance double major Devon Rafanelli said.
He then read through the article about High Five Guy, asking multiple times, “Who wrote this?” and joking about the depth and detail the reporter went through.
“I’m gonna start doing that [high-fiving people] … at those three locations,” Mulaney said.
After doing some more crowd work and asking people their majors, Mulaney noticed someone with a notebook. He asked the audience member why, and it was because they had an exam tomorrow.
“If you have a test on rockets tomorrow, you shouldn’t be here,” he said.
Throughout the show, students would cheer whenever Mulaney would take a sip out of his water, which caused him to be suspicious of what was in his cup and confused by the excitement. Mulaney described this as one of the “creepiest moments of [his] life.”
The end of the show was consumed by a back and forth between Mulaney trying to figure out the audience’s excitement by the water and the audience shouting rhymes for hydration, like “hydrate or diedrate,” and an attempt from one person to explain to him what was going on.
“I thought the interactions [with the audience] were good because they were more personalized jokes, but I also thought the water thing was overdone,” Kate Sturge, a sophomore physics major, said.
Similar sentiments from Sturge were shared by other UMD students.
“I’m not a huge fan of a ton of audience interaction, especially since it’s not really his typical style. Like some comedians make that their thing and it’s not really his,” sophomore environmental science and policy major Andrea Shirdon said.
Even though his style was a little different, many students did enjoy having Mulaney at the university for homecoming.
“Love his energy, love the vibe,” Shirdon said.
Other students enjoyed the entirety of his set and its difference from his previous performances.
“As a comedy fan, I appreciate when a comic treats a college set like an actual one, and this is probably the first time in my UMD career that the comic has done that,” Gordon said.
Although the university and its healthy hydration were unsettling to Mulaney, his jokes were well received by the audience and created a unique experience for everyone involved.
“You’re really doing your own thing here at College Park,” Mulaney said. “I like your style.”
Featured Photo Credit: Taneen Momeni/Bloc Reporter.
Taneen Momeni is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.