John Mulaney’s ‘Everybody’s in L.A.’ Goes to a Trump Rally

As with everything else on this wild, unpredictable series, the segment did not go as expected. Ever heard of a “reverse Borat”?Published May 10, 2024 11:33AM EDT Adam Rose/NetflixBy now, it’s beyond obvious that John Mulaney’s Everybody’s in L.A. has no interest in replicating the usual late-night formula. The panel discussions meander, our host sometimes makes a show

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As with everything else on this wild, unpredictable series, the segment did not go as expected. Ever heard of a “reverse Borat”?

Laura Bradley

John Mulaney

Adam Rose/Netflix

By now, it’s beyond obvious that John Mulaney’s Everybody’s in L.A. has no interest in replicating the usual late-night formula. The panel discussions meander, our host sometimes makes a show of hanging up on his call-in guests when their stories are too boring, and the breakout star of the series (apart from the hilariously chaotic announcer, Richard Kind) is a snack delivery robot. Nevertheless, there are some things no late-night series can live without. So on Thursday night, Mulaney finally gave us the inevitable political fieldpiece, sending his correspondent (writer Rajat Suresh) to a Trump rally. That said, there was, of course, a twist at the end.

Our journey into MAGA land started out like all of them do—with a few people in Trump gear and reflective sunglasses spouting off nonsense to the camera. “Our cities are overrun with these illegals,” one woman said, “and Joe’s just letting it all happen.” When Suresh asked if she would refuse to vote for someone who urged Congress to kill a border security bill, she naturally said yes—and then had to eat her words when he dropped the “gotcha” that it was Trump who led that effort. Then, we got to a guy who insisted that Joe Biden gets injected with kids’ blood—and when he offered to bring Suresh back to his home and show him proof, that’s when the bit began to reveal itself. Wasn’t that guy a writer on the show, too?

“They call themselves ‘reverse Borats,’” a fake 60 Minutes anchor tells us, “and their mission is to get humiliated in funny interviews on programs like Borat and The Daily Show.” As our new conspiracy friend boasts to Suresh, “I’ve been humiliated by all the best shows on TV—I’m blessed.” Soon enough, Suresh reveals that he, too, is playing a part. He doesn’t care at all about politics, he says; for him, Esports are everything. For the rest of the segment, that’s all he talks about.

Gambits like this have become something of a calling card for Everybody’s in L.A., a show that loves to play with existing formulas in absurd ways. In this episode alone, Mulaney dropped three more satirical bits: First, he brought Cedric the Entertainer on to do a makeover show that ended with all the women looking like the comedian himself (in one case, complete with a goatee). Then, Mulaney acquiesced to those who’ve complained that although his show features tons of stand-up comedians, there’s no actual stand-up. To soothe their frustration, he brought Kevin Gage to the stage to perform a tight five in character as Waingro from the heist movie Heat. Sample joke: “I had a physical last week. Doctor says to me, ‘Waingro, I’ve got good news and bad news. Good news, your cholesterol looks OK. Bad news, you were shot three times at the end of the movie Heat and you’re dead.’” And finally, we also got a story hour in which film producer Brian Grazer visited a class of small children only to bore them with stories about making American Gangster, casting Tom Hanks in Apollo 13, and losing an Oscar to Braveheart.

The end result of all of these left-field flourishes is a series that consistently surprises, even if some of the jokes land more decisively than others. Really, it’s the mischievous joy with which Mulaney strings it all together that makes Everybody’s in L.A. so appealing. He and Kind have the sort of rapport that takes years to build (perhaps because they’ve worked together before), as seen in moments like the beginning of Thursday’s installment, when Mulaney announced that he’d preemptively decided that this would be the show’s “Emmys episode” and Kind immediately launched into a maudlin monologue about not knowing how to read. Conveniently for Mulaney’s Emmys bid, Thursday’s panel discussion might’ve been the show’s best yet.

Each episode of Everybody’s in L.A. has a theme, and this time around, it was earthquakes. As always, we had one expert and a ton of comedians on the panel—seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones, along with David Letterman, Bill Hader, Luenell, and Pete Davidson. The conversation included its usual digressions—like Hader remembering the time Dan Aykroyd got him untenably high at Saturday Night Live and Letterman revealing that he has a doomsday bunker—and Jones also got a few jokes in about what it’s like to be everyone’s go-to “earthquake lady.” Overall, the group gelled perhaps better than any of those who’ve preceded it—especially thanks to Luenell, who kept the group riffing, and Hader, who kept descending into laughter at the slightest provocation. In the end, Los Lobos played us out with “La Bamba,” which, if we’re being honest, is how every episode of every TV series should end.

As Mulaney heads into his final episode Friday night, it will be fascinating to see what becomes of Everybody’s in L.A. Netflix has historically struggled to launch a good late-night show, and as Josef Adalian recently observed for Vulture, Mulaney just handed them a pretty solid framework. Could this limited run during the streamer’s Netflix Is a Joke festival be a test run for a bigger, longer-term project? It’s possible, but part of the mystique might just be that we all know, as Mulaney has repeatedly reminded us this week, that it’s only here for a short time. It’s best to savor this weird burst of brilliance—and the interviews with tennis coaches, recovering aggressive drivers, and America’s Funniest Home Video stars—while we still can. Who knows when someone will pull off something this brilliantly bizarre again?

Laura Bradley

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