After a tour that traversed 150 cities and ended with an incredible Netflix special, John Mulaney claimed that there was still one place he wanted to perform at, and the night of Nov. 30, he got his wish.
Clemson welcomed Mulaney, and his two openers, to the Tillman Auditorium stage amidst the applause of over 700 students, and he wasted barely five minutes before tearing into the name of the very place he was performing. But before that, freshman forest resource management major Carson Colenbaugh stepped up to the microphone and blew away any and all low expectations.
Colenbaugh clearly mastered relatability, and he used hot topics such as football and the voting situation in Georgia to earn a standing ovation as he left the stage. He connected and appealed to his audience on a level that bested his follow-up, Max Silvestri, and even maybe Mulaney himself. Colenbaugh clearly portrayed the college student experience that his entire audience was in the throes of, using that to his advantage freakishly well.
Silvestri followed Colenbaugh’s all too short 10 minutes on stage, and he told many amusing stories before arriving at one of the best tales of the night. It involved a generator, a chemical burn and an asshole, and it sent the entire auditorium into crying laughter.
Then, 36 minutes after the lights dimmed and the show began, Mulaney walked on stage in all his gangly, weirdly Grant-Gustin-like glory, and for the next hour, he completely enraptured the entire auditorium.
The exact material he used cannot be properly described and conveyed in only written word, but that’s why Netflix specials exist and why there are surely audio recordings floating around as we speak. Needless to say, the show was undeniably worth $20 and the stress of fighting an uphill battle against the Ticketmaster website.
Mulaney’s jokes were numerous and diverse, ranging from acknowledgements to physical traits he shares with the Flash on television, to his willingness to provide teenagers with alcohol since he himself was once a teenager desperate for alcohol, to reminders that buildings really aren’t that hard to rename and if we could just get a sponsorship, Tillman Hall could promptly be renamed Zaxby’s Hall, and no one would actually care.
And if you’ve ever wondered what it might be like to participate in a call-and-response portion of a show featuring the man who is arguably the United States’ favorite comedian, there are two people at Clemson who can currently tell you.
All in all, the night was not one to forget anytime soon. Instead it is to remember the next time you want to gently roast Clemson University and its decision to have a statue of Thomas Green Clemson be front and center and to not rename its most recognizable building Zaxby’s Hall.
Mulaney only told one or two skits that had been featured on Netflix, so the material was both fresh and outrageously funny. The decision to hold the performance in such a small auditorium was questionable, especially when campus offers locations such as the Brooks Center, and it is heartbreaking that people missed out on this performance due to the choice of location.
Security was strict, so while recordings might exist, they will be rare. If you were one of the unlucky people unable to secure tickets, my heart goes out to you. Just remember that there are three hours of Mulaney material on Netflix, and his jokes are always good background sounds for some intense studying. For now, just cross your fingers and hope you’ll be able to get tickets the next time someone famous and wonderful comes to Clemson, though with the amount of money dropped on this performance, who knows when that will be.