It’s been a long haul for Mulaney. The self-titled show from comedian and former Saturday Night Live writer John Mulaney was initially pitched as a pilot to NBC, but the network passed on the comedy in spite of Lorne Michaels’ involvement as an executive producer and Mulaney’s strong credentials (he co-created SNL’s “Stefon” along with Bill Hader, and has racked up a slew of excellent stand-up specials). Instead of dropping the show and heading back to the friendly confines of Studio 8H, Mulaney tweaked the pilot and brought it over to FOX, which picked up the show last October and last week upped its order to 16 episodes of the multi-camera sitcom.
At yesterday’s upfronts, FOX unveiled the trailer for Mulaney, and you could hardly be blamed if you noticed more than a few similarities between it and another self-titled, New York City-based multi-camera sitcom from a stand-up comedian. Here are a few of the other ways that Mulaney resembles Seinfeld:
1. The trailer begins with a stand-up routine. Mulaney’s stand-up isn’t all that similar to Seinfeld’s, but it’s not too much of a stretch to imagine Seinfeld doing a version of the bit that opens the Mulaney trailer.
2. Mulaney is basically playing himself. Maybe a slightly different version of himself, but with plenty of similarities and, you know, the same name.
3. In the first non-stand-up scene of the trailer, Mulaney is wearing those familiar Superman colors (albeit a version more aligned with Henry Cavill’s Superman than Dean Cain’s).
4. Sure, the door’s in the wrong place but the kitchen/living room layout looks more than a little familiar (though the kitchen itself is far messier than Jerry would have ever kept it.
5. Mulaney seems to have two real friends (Seaton Smith and Nasim Pedrad) and then one zany friend (Zack Pearlman), who may have replaced the Kramer slide with a wave as he opens the door to Mulaney’s apartment.
6. In each of their introductory scenes, Smith and Pedrad talk about their dating lives. Actually, that’s kind of like every sitcom — not that Seinfeld didn’t delve plenty into Elaine and George’s romantic foibles.
7. It’s possible that Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ trademark has expired, but Pedrad’s finger-point is positively Benes-esque.
8. Oh, and there’s plenty of awkward sexual tension between Mulaney and Pedrad — that final couch scene in particular brings back some very Seinfeld-ian memories.
Of course, all this is based on just over two minutes of footage, so it’s entirely possible the Mulaney barely ends up resembling Seinfeld in terms of storytelling or tone. On the other hand, there’s plenty in those 150 seconds that could trigger a little déjà vu — just be on the lookout in case someone drops a “Festivus” reference.