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John Mulaney’s ‘Everybody’s in L.A.’: A guide to the hyperlocal references

By Kaitlyn Huamani, Los Angeles Times
Published: May 13, 2024, 6:09am

LOS ANGELES — John Mulaney, a Chicago native and former New Yorker, is a recent transplant to Los Angeles. In his latest project with Netflix, “Everybody’s in L.A.,” the stand-up comedian explores the city he describes as a place that simultaneously “confuses and fascinates” him.

The show, which has a pseudo-late night format and features actor and comedian Richard Kind as the announcer, began May 3 as part of the Netflix Is a Joke Festival. It streams live at 10 p.m. Eastern and wraps Friday. Mulaney paused the show over the weekend to perform at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday in one of the festival’s most anticipated shows.

The show calls on the aesthetics of a ‘70s living room for its set, the sketch humor of “Saturday Night Live” and the production chaos of Netflix’s recent ventures into the live streaming space. Mulaney enlists comedians in town for the festival and L.A.-based experts to “try to figure out just what the hell is going on here.”

With a number of topics specific to Southern California setting the tone and theme for each episode, some humor might be lost on the crowd of non-Angelenos tuning in. Here is an ongoing guide to some of the L.A. people, places and things discussed in each episode of “Everybody’s in L.A.”

Ongoing

Saymo delivery bot

Based on the many food delivery robots that roll through the streets of L.A., Mulaney and company created the Saymo, perhaps a play on the Waymo self-driving cars that are permeating the city. The robot has appeared in each episode, providing snacks and beverages — ginger ale in particular (Mulaney: “It’s not just for sick”) — to guests on the show. Jon Stewart, who mentioned frequently that he is not from L.A. (“The Daily Show” host is from New Jersey), jumped up as the bot approached the stage in the second episode and called it a “rolling toilet” after remarking that he had never seen a robot like that before.

Episode 3

Helicopters

Mulaney cracked several one-liners about the episode’s aviation theme , calling a chopper circling an STD billboard “the official bird of Los Angeles.” As he introduced the theme, he said: “They’re everywhere in L.A., they hover and they give you a headache. No, I’m not talking about actors,” before Kind interrupted with an emphatic “F— actors!” In addition to helicopter journalist Zoey Tur, Mulaney hosted comedian Nate Bargatze, who said his 2021 special filmed at Universal Studios was interrupted by a helicopter police chase. “That’s just L.A.,” Bargatze said before Mulaney interjected, “That’s just what happens when you film at Universal City Walk.” To cap off the discussion, Mulaney took live calls from at-home viewers, as he has done throughout the show’s run, and one caller pointed out that Disney parks, including Disneyland in Anaheim, are no-fly zones, which Tur confirmed. Unfortunately for Bargatze, Universal is fair game.

Zoey Tur

The L.A.-based journalist known for pioneering live reporting from a helicopter was the expert guest for Tuesday’s episode. Tur, who was identified as a “helicopter queen,” said her career materialized when she grew frustrated working as a journalist in L.A. because she couldn’t get to timely stories fast enough thanks to the city’s infamous freeway traffic. She said she bought a helicopter in 1977 and learned how to fly with the help of off-duty L.A. Fire Department pilots. Tur has covered global news stories, from O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco chase to footage of the 1992 Los Angeles riots and other major local watershed moments during her storied career.

Old punks

Mulaney introduced a prerecorded segment featuring L.A. punk musicians from the ‘70s and ‘80s by calling the city home to some of the “best punk bands ever.” Fred Armisen was tasked with interviewing L.A.’s punk elders in a focus group, where he spoke with such musical legends as Lee Ving of Fear, Mike Watt of the Minutemen and Exene Cervenka of X. He asked them about glory days, and Don Bolles of the Germs noted that the group of 11 prolific punk musicians had probably never been assembled together before.

Armisen also showed them a series of photos and asked them to react — a shot of Ronald Reagan elicited a chorus of boos, and Kid Congo Powers called him a “f—ing monster.” The group’s final activity was to create a theme song for the L.A. tourist board. Titles like “Please Don’t Move Here” and “You’ll Be Famous For a Minute” were ultimately shot down in favor of “Ghosty Ghost Place Superstar,” an anthem the group improvised together to close out the segment.

Episode 2

Palm trees

Mulaney did a deep dive on the picturesque trees that line L.A.’s streets, in a monologue. He noted that they are not native plants and that they were brought in to beautify the city about 100 years ago, which is roughly their lifespan, meaning that many of the area’s palm trees will die soon. He also added that the trees use up a lot of water and don’t improve air quality, saying they are “gorgeous but useless, like the fountain at the Grove or Gavin Newsom.” Amanda Begley, a senior leader at nonprofit TreePeople, came on to confirm the facts from Mulaney’s monologue and said palm trees are technically a type of grass.

Warren G

From Long Beach, the rapper, record producer and DJ performed as the musical guest on the second episode. After his performance of “Regulate,” comedian and guest Gabriel Iglesias gave the rapper a standing ovation. Mulaney also noted that Stewart, another guest on the panel, had Warren G as a guest on his show 30 years ago, where he sang the same song. The rapper is an instrumental figure in the rise of the West Coast rap scene in the ‘90s, working with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Dr. Dre.

James Goldstein

Mulaney enlisted his friend Andy Samberg to take on the role of James Goldstein, an L.A. businessman known for sitting courtside at Lakers and Clippers games. Mulaney introduced the bit by saying that his show, just like a Lakers game, attracts well-known guests in the front row and hinted at more cameos in the coming episodes. Samberg sported a long white wig and a sequined jacket with a cowboy hat, mimicking Goldstein’s singular style. During the segment, Stewart called Goldstein a “robber baron,” saying that he made his fortune off the high rent he charges at the mobile home parks he owns.

Episode 1

Coyotes

Coyotes, the wolf-adjacent animals that are prevalent in the greater L.A. area, are not particularly well liked by Angelenos, especially those who have dogs and fear the animals will attack their pets. Mulaney made the animal the topic of his first episode, which featured a coyote expert and local callers sharing stories about their encounters with them. Tony Tucci, chair and co-founder of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, came on to share what to do if you see a coyote in the wild, saying that it’s important to make yourself “larger than life” and generate a lot of noise. Jerry Seinfeld, a fellow guest on the show, mocked Tucci’s suggestions, which included traveling with an air horn tied around your neck.

Ray J

Mulaney brought R&B singer and television personality Ray J onto the show and described him as a “Black Forrest Gump,” noting that he had been a part of several cultural touchstones of the 21st century — though no mention of Kim Kardashian. During his interview on the show, Ray J discussed how he is in the process of divorcing his wife, Princess Love, who he has been married to since 2016. The couple previously announced they were divorcing three times, but called it off each time, until his wife announced they had separated and were pursuing a divorce in February. “She was mad,” Ray J said after saying that he is heading to Africa to find his “queen.”

Lou Adler

Comedy legend Will Ferrell appeared as Lou Adler, the record and film producer and the co-owner of the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood. Adler has worked with music legends like the Mamas & the Papas and Carole King and produced films like Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Ferrell donned Adler’s famous look — a beret and colored sunglasses. Playing Adler from the audience, Ferrell tried to cajole Mulaney into partying with him in a hilarious bit.

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