John Mulaney Opens Up About Recovery and Having a Baby With Olivia Munn on ‘Late Night With Seth Meyers’
John Mulaney: Kid Gorgeous at Radio City is a stand up comedy triumph. Every joke is meticulously written and every punchline is served with a twinkle of mischief. But at about 44 minutes, 12 seconds into the Netflix special, John Mulaney starts what might be the first truly great political bit of the Trump era.
You are watching: The horse has left the hospital
This is Mulaney’s only real moment addressing Donald Trump’s presidency in all of Kid Gorgeous. In years gone by, it would be easy enough to find a plethora of comics who didn’t mention politics at all in their hour-plus-long stand up specials. Today is different. Trump casts a shadow on our culture that begs to be commented upon. But instead of mocking his appearance, his politics, his lies, his lawsuits, his affairs, or his administration, John Mulaney approaches Trump and his presidency in an entirely novel way.
It starts rather inauspiciously. Mulaney thanks the crowd for laughing at his “political gazebo material,” and then errantly toys with his mic cord as though it’s a lasso. “I’ve never really cared about politics, never talked about them much,” he says. “But last November, the strangest thing happened!”
“Here’s how I try to look at it, and this is just me: this guy being the president, it’s like there’s a horse loose in a hospital,” Mulaney says. “I think eventually everything’s going to be okay, but I have no idea what’s going to happen next. And neither do any of you, and neither do your parents, because there’s a horse loose in the hospital!”
That’s it. That’s the meat of the joke. John Mulaney says Donald Trump’s presidency is like there’s a random horse loose in any old hospital, but what the comic does with that basic premise is absolute genius.
The entire bit — which is about 6 minutes long — is a multi-layered tour de force of comedy that calls out the constant panicked drivel of the 24-hour-news cycle, Real Housewives reunion specials, brunch pundits, people who only know history from the Broadway musical Hamilton, the looming threat of nuclear war with North Korea, bratty know-it-alls at slumber parties, Gary Busey, and the reality that we were never so aware of the news than we are in this moment. Mulaney manages to point the jester’s marotte at himself, too. He admits that he cares about what Trump does, even if he didn’t care when previous presidents did the same thing. It’s not stupid, he explains. It’s human.
Sure, there’ve been burns a-plenty, tons of late night scathing satire, and an endless parade of ghoulish impersonations, but John Mulaney’s bit transcends all other “Trump” jokes because it mocks the moment far more than it jabs at the man. Mulaney takes care not to argue who’s right and who’s wrong; his commentary is more on how life feels for many panicked Americans in this uncertain moment. Even the metaphor he chooses speaks to this. It’s an outlandish image that immediately communicates the feeling that a solemn institution has somehow been transformed into a circus.
Mulaney’s “horse loose in a hospital” bit soars because he’s not trying to make any sort of traditional political statement. He’s here to vent about how utterly maddening it’s been to live for years in a society propelled by fear, panic, and anger. This joke isn’t about party politics; it’s about day-to-day life in 2018.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t the first time Mulaney has shared his “horse loose in a hospital” joke. Last summer the comic stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and tiptoed into the concept. Here, the joke isn’t completely formed and Mulaney delivers it casually in conversation. Sure, it’s a fascinating look at how a joke evolves over time, but it’s also proof of the bit’s power. Most other political jokes speak to a specific news event. These brittle one-liners and furiously dark monologues are written in the moment and delivered in a rush, to capitalize on the short life span of a news story in today’s world. Most of the jokes we’ve heard about Trump in the last two years are ephemeral, if not also (ironically) consistently going back to the same joke.
See more: If You Put It That Way Ffxiv, Ffxiv Relic / Zodiac Weapon Complete Guide
Mulaney’s “horse loose in a hospital” joke isn’t just special because it’s managed to last so long — it feels even more frustratingly relevant more time treads on, actually — but because it’s unique. No one else in comedy is taking this approach. It’s an absurd joke that does what the best comedy is always supposed to do: it speaks the truth, while also providing much-needed emotional catharsis.