John Mulaney is an old-fashioned type of comedian. A showman, if you will. He wears a suit on stage, speaks in a transatlantic accent, and crafts his jokes with impeccable, Catskills-feeling tightness. And now, with a new variety special announced for Netflix, Mulaney is leaning in even harder to his retro sensibilities. John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch, featuring Mulaney and a bunch of cute, super-talented kids, comes to Netflix December 24, 2019 — aka Christmas Eve.
Remember “that bygone television era when children sang songs about their feelings with celebrity guests on funky outdoor sets”? Mulaney does — he wrote that description, after all. And he aims to recapture this magical tone with his new special, directed by frequent collaborator Rhys Thomas (Documentary Now, John Mulaney: The Comeback Kid). I will now let Mr. Mulaney eloquently describe exactly what you will see in the special:
I’m John Mulaney and I am a 37 year old man. The Sack Lunch Bunch is a group of children ages 8-13 who are more talented than me. In this special, we are joined by celebrity guests like David Byrne, Tony Award Winner Andre De Shields, Natasha Lyonne, Annaleigh Ashford, Shereen Pimentel, Richard Kind, and Jake Gyllenhaal from the movie Zodiac. The result is a collage of Broadway caliber showstoppers, comedy sketches for all ages, meditations on the unknown from children and adults, and a papier mache volcano. It’s funny, musical, joyous, anxious, and surprisingly profound.
There are a lot of morsels of joy to parcel out from Mulaney’s description. David Byrne? Natasha Lyonne? Richard Kind? Referring to Jake Gyllenhaal as being from Zodiac? A big hell yeah to all of this. And also, a big hell yeah to teasing not just the joyful comedy of the special, but the realness, the anxiety, the surprising profundity therein. This is a special, to put it simply, custom-made for me. I hope it is custom-made for you, too.
John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch drops on Netflix December 24, 2019. For more ways to celebrate holiday cheer, here’s every new Christmas special available on Netflix. Plus, check out Kacey Musgraves‘ upcoming holiday special for Amazon. And finally, here’s our review of the latest season of Big Mouth, starring Mulaney.