An Examination of John Mulaney’s “Realtors” Through the Eyes of Rob King

This clip shows John Mulaney, an incredibly popular current stand-up comedian, dissecting the experience of buying a house with a realtor. In all cases, when spoken about in a normal, daily setting this is by all means an incredibly mundane topic. While John Mulaney is neither engaging in slapstick comedy, or any type of comedic skit, we find ourselves prepped to receive something humorous based on the setting alone. Stand-up lends a hand in mediating expectations, based solely on the fact that the interaction is constructed with the expectation that he will be funny. Mulaney’s main joke centers around the relatability of buying a house, referencing popular television programs about real-estate purchases, and the zany individuals you meet as a result.

To draw into King’s argument, “different technologies do impact the humor we enjoy” and our ability to connect with different technologies is a major influence in how we process comedy. Mulaney’s joke is only funny to the audience because they have engaged in watching programmed TV about the purchasing of real-estate. If that reference was completely unrelatable, it would no longer have comedic standing. It is heavily relaying on different media platforms to carry the weight of reference.

King also mentions the difference between live-action comedy, and a comedic photograph. The “all-at-onceness” of a photo leaves the viewer with a different level of engagement than you experience with a skit. I believe the same sort of processing can be seen in stand-up; the joke is delivered and hits you all at once. Stand-up works in waves similar to that; you experience one laugh and then charge up for the next. Mulaney’s approach is overall incredibly successful, because his acute awareness of the “real” in everyday life allows for spot-on social commentary.

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