How the two characters that John Mulaney and Nick Kroll inhabit in Oh, Hello came to be is a twisted history of guest spots. As far as I can remember, the first time I’d heard Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland was on an episode of the podcast Comedy, Bang! Bang! Mulaney and Kroll’s hilarious characters were too good to just be guest characters on a podcast maybe twice a year so they spun the characters out to a webseries entitled Too Much Tuna. Hilarious as it is, there is only so much you can do with a low budget semi-talk show webseries. It made sense they would branch out even further from there, with their now cult-followed characters, but I didn’t think Broadway would be their next stop.
Clearly these Mulaney and Kroll love New York and have a specific nostalgia for Broadway culture. But Oh, Hello on Broadway becomes to insular by having a lot jokes which are so specific about Broadway culture. What saves many of these jokes is how naturally funny these guys are simply speaking. Sometimes the joke isn’t even what they say but rather how they are saying it. I even get the feeling that making these extremely specific Broadway refrences and having the majority of the audience not understand them might actually be the joke. But maybe that’s just me trying to stay in the cool kids club.
The show outlines Faizon and St. Geegland’s personal history, how they meet eachother and how they each are trying to make an impact in the New York cultural scene. Clearly they haven’t made a dent as they are in their old age and still living with eachother. It’s fun to see the backstory Mulaney and Kroll have crafted for these characters but where the show really shines is in their small moments of improve.
Oh, Hello on Broadway is a live performance, so inevitably things will go wrong. There were no major snafus but one actor will find the others delivery of a joke particularly funny and break character for a second or they will interact with an audience member here and there. These two guys are improve geniuses and it shows. Even more interesting is the short interview segment (I won’t spoil the guest star) but I wonder how much of that was rehearsed and how that segment works from night to night in the live show.
When you take a step back and look at where these characters spawned from, what they were meant to be and how they have morphed into something so much bigger, it’s really amazing that this live special even exists. As long as Netflix is willing to throw money at these weird odd-ball projects, I’ll keep watching.