John Mulaney's 'Everybody's in L.A.': A guide to the hyperlocal references


John Mulaney, a Chicago native and former New Yorker, is a recent transplant to L.A. In his latest project with Netflix, “Everybody’s in L.A.,” the stand-up comedian explores the city he describes as a place that simultaneously “confuses and fascinates” him.

The show, which has a pseudo-late night format and features actor and comedian Richard Kind as the announcer, began May 3 as part of the Netflix Is a Joke Festival. It streamed live and ended Friday (all six episodes are available to watch). Mulaney also performed at the Hollywood Bowl on Saturday in one of the festival’s most anticipated shows.

The show calls on the aesthetics of a ’70s living room for its set, the sketch humor of “Saturday Night Live” and the production chaos of Netflix’s recent ventures into the livestreaming space. Mulaney enlists comedians in town for the festival and L.A.-based experts to “try to figure out just what the hell is going on here.”

With a number of topics specific to Southern California setting the tone and theme for each episode, some humor might be lost on the crowd of non-Angelenos tuning in. Here is a guide to some of the L.A. people, places and things discussed in each episode of “Everybody’s in L.A.”

Ongoing

Saymo delivery bot

Based on the many food delivery robots that roll through the streets of L.A., Mulaney and company created the Saymo, perhaps a play on the Waymo self-driving cars that are permeating the city. The robot has appeared in each episode, providing snacks and beverages — ginger ale in particular (Mulaney: “It’s not just for sick”) — to guests on the show. Jon Stewart, who mentioned frequently that he is not from L.A. (“The Daily Show” host is from New Jersey), jumped up as the bot approached the stage in the second episode and called it a “rolling toilet” after remarking that he had never seen a robot like that before.

Episode 6

La Brea Tar Pits
Paleontologist Emily Lindsey, associate curator and excavation site director of the La Brea Tar Pits, was one of Mulaney’s guests on Friday’s final episode. She described the pits as “the most important Ice Age fossil site in the world,” but tar pits is a misnomer — it’s actually asphalt that bubbles up through the site. That asphalt is what trapped many prehistoric animals, like saber-toothed cats, mammoths and giant sloths, whose excavated remains are now on display at the site’s museum. Located in Mid-City, the site is home to more than 100 pits where fossil excavations, which began in the early 1900s, continue to this day.

Mayor Karen Bass
The episode’s topic was the future of L.A., and the city’s leader called into the show to weigh in. Karen Bass, the 43rd mayor of Los Angeles, said, “The future of L.A. is incredible.” Mulaney interjected, “Yeah, but you’re the mayor.” She didn’t give specific details about the city’s future but emphasized its diverse culture and said L.A. was the “entertainment capital of the world.” Comedian Mike Birbiglia, a guest (and New Yorker, as Mulaney noted), asked the mayor whether “we’re supposed to eat almonds or not,” to which Bass replied, “We eat healthy.” Fellow comedian and guest Hannah Gadsby said she didn’t share the mayor’s optimism about L.A.: “From the outside, it doesn’t look like a healthy place.” Bass, however, was undeterred.

John Carpenter

The renowned director and master of horror arrived midway through the episode, and he turned out to be L.A.’s biggest hype man. John Carpenter spoke about arriving in Los Angeles from Kentucky to attend USC, explaining that he quickly fell for the city. “The weather, the people — L.A. for me was paradise. I’ve lived here ever since and I love it. Love every inch of it.” But what does he think the future holds for the city? Carpenter predicts Mexico will take over the city and then later the “long-awaited Doobie Brothers prophecy takes place: California breaks off into the sea.”

Episode 5

Earthquakes
The penultimate episode’s theme was to be expected — a show about life in L.A. wouldn’t be complete without discussing earthquakes. When Mulaney introduced the theme, the audience roared, to which he said, “Hey, don’t clap too hard, we’ll start one.” Mulaney then discussed the frequency of earthquakes in Southern California because of its location between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. He also noted that this year marked the 30th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake, which caused $40 billion in damage.

One of the prerecorded segments featured an interview with an L.A. woman whose home video showing her family during an earthquake — which captured her panicked husband running out of the shower naked — won a cash prize on “America’s Funniest Home Videos.”

Lucy Jones
Renowned seismologist Lucy Jones, who has been called the “Beyoncé of earthquakes,” joined the show to add some expertise . She told viewers that if they are in Los Angeles, they are within a few miles of an earthquake fault line. She answered questions from inquisitive fellow panelists and live callers. She also said the advice to stand in a door frame during an earthquake is dated guidance — she recommends getting under a hard surface like a desk or table. Jones also mentioned how the recent earthquake in New Jersey “ruined” her day because she had to make several TV appearances.

Los Lobos

The Mexican American rock band was the evening’s musical guest, performing hit song “La Bamba.” The band originated in East Los Angeles in the 1970s and reached international fame in 1987 when their rendition of the song topped the charts, thanks to the Ritchie Valens biopic named after “La Bamba.” Founding band members David Hidalgo and Louie Perez met at Garfield High School in East L.A., where the group recently performed a concert commemorating the band’s 50th anniversary in November.

Episode 4

The Paranormal

Mulaney promised the paranormal-themed fourth episode would be full of “a lot of spooky s—,” which is also a phrase he used to describe L.A. after saying that many people have reported paranormal experiences and haunted houses in the city. He then mentioned the large population of Angelenos who are into “amulets and candles and oils and incense.” After satirizing the horoscope-reading population, he said, “Sometimes the witchy s— gets so intense that they basically become Catholic.”

The spooky theme remained the focus of conversations with live callers and of the episode’s guests, including horror royalty Cassandra Peterson, better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Peterson described experiencing paranormal activity in her L.A. home many years ago, saying the situation became so dire she had to call in an exorcist.

Kerry Gaynor

Over his 40-year career, Kerry Gaynor developed a method of hypnotherapy that has helped many people, including A-list celebrities, to quit smoking, drinking and using drugs, or kick other bad habits. Mulaney said that he visited Gaynor in 2021, skeptical that the therapist could help him drop his 26-year smoking habit. After two sessions together, Mulaney said he quit cold turkey and has not used any nicotine since. Other celebrities who have used Gaynor’s services include Martin Sheen, Heather Locklear, Aaron Eckhart and Emily Procter. Gaynor said his method of hypnotherapy is successful because he taps into the subconscious mind to help clients fully understand how their addiction could be killing them. He also said that many of his clients don’t experience withdrawal or cravings.

Plaque marking the center of L.A.
In one of the many random prerecorded segments that Mulaney’s show plays between live segments, the camera pans in on an unassuming plaque in a grassy area, marking the exact center of the city. It reads in haphazardly hand-stamped letters: “Exact center, point of balance of the plane of the City of Los Angeles,” and is situated near the parking lot of Franklin Canyon Park, between the San Fernando Valley and Beverly Hills. Allan E. Edwards, a former U.S. Geologic Survey employee, determined the point in December 1990, even if on a map it doesn’t appear to be the city’s center.

Episode 3

Helicopters
Mulaney cracked several one-liners about the episode’s aviation theme, calling a chopper circling an STD billboard “the official bird of Los Angeles.” As he introduced the theme, he said: “They’re everywhere in L.A., they hover and they give you a headache. No, I’m not talking about actors,” before Kind interrupted with an emphatic “F— actors!” In addition to helicopter journalist Zoey Tur, Mulaney hosted comedian Nate Bargatze, who said his 2021 special filmed at Universal Studios was interrupted by a helicopter police chase. “That’s just L.A.,” Bargatze said before Mulaney interjected, “That’s just what happens when you film at Universal CityWalk.” To cap off the discussion, Mulaney took live calls from at-home viewers, as he has done throughout the show’s run, and one caller pointed out that Disney parks, including Disneyland in Anaheim, are no-fly zones, which Tur confirmed. Unfortunately for Bargatze, Universal is fair game.

Zoey Tur

The L.A.-based journalist known for pioneering live reporting from a helicopter was the expert guest for Tuesday’s episode. Tur, who was identified as a “helicopter queen,” said her career materialized when she grew frustrated working as a journalist in L.A. because she couldn’t get to timely stories fast enough thanks to the city’s infamous traffic. She said she bought a helicopter in 1977 and learned how to fly with the help of off-duty L.A. Fire Department pilots. Tur has covered global news stories, from O.J. Simpson’s white Bronco chase to the 1992 Los Angeles riots and other major local watershed moments, during her storied career.

Old punks
Mulaney introduced a prerecorded segment featuring L.A. punk musicians from the 1970s and ’80s by calling the city home to some of the “best punk bands ever.” Fred Armisen was tasked with interviewing L.A.’s punk elders in a focus group, where he spoke with such musical legends as Lee Ving of Fear, Mike Watt of the Minutemen and Exene Cervenka of X. He asked them about their glory days, and Don Bolles of the Germs noted that the group of 11 prolific punk musicians probably had never been assembled together before.

Armisen also showed them a series of photos and asked them to react — a shot of Ronald Reagan elicited a chorus of boos, and Kid Congo Powers called him a “f— monster.” The group’s final activity was to create a theme song for the L.A. tourist board. Titles like “Please Don’t Move Here” and “You’ll Be Famous for a Minute” ultimately were shot down in favor of “Ghosty Ghost Place Superstar,” an anthem the group improvised together to close out the segment.

Episode 2

Palm trees
In a monologue, Mulaney did a deep dive on the picturesque trees that line L.A.’s streets. He noted that they are not native plants and that they were brought in to beautify the city about 100 years ago, which is roughly their lifespan, meaning that many of the area’s palm trees will die soon. He also added that the trees use a lot of water and don’t improve air quality, saying they are “gorgeous but useless, like the fountain at the Grove or Gavin Newsom.” Amanda Begley, a senior leader at nonprofit TreePeople, came on to confirm the facts from Mulaney’s monologue and said palm trees are technically a type of grass.

Warren G

From Long Beach, rapper, record producer and DJ Warren G was the musical guest on the second episode. After his performance of “Regulate,” comedian and guest Gabriel Iglesias gave the rapper a standing ovation. Mulaney also noted that Stewart, another guest on the panel, had Warren G as a guest on his show 30 years ago, where he sang the same song. The rapper is an instrumental figure in the rise of the West Coast rap scene in the ’90s, working with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and Dr. Dre.

James Goldstein

Mulaney enlisted friend Andy Samberg to take on the role of James Goldstein, an L.A. businessman known for sitting courtside at Lakers and Clippers games. Mulaney introduced the bit by saying that his show, just like a Lakers game, attracts well-known guests in the front row and hinted at more cameos in coming episodes. Samberg sported a long white wig and a sequined jacket with a cowboy hat, mimicking Goldstein’s singular style. During the segment, Stewart called Goldstein a “robber baron,” saying that he made his fortune off the high rent he charges at the mobile home parks he owns.

Episode 1

Coyotes
Coyotes, the wolf-adjacent animals that are prevalent in the Greater L.A. area, are not particularly well liked by Angelenos, especially those who have dogs and fear the animals will attack their pets. Mulaney made the animal the topic of his first episode, which featured a coyote expert and local callers sharing stories about their encounters with them. Tony Tucci, chair and co-founder of Citizens for Los Angeles Wildlife, came on to share what to do if you see a coyote in the wild, saying that it’s important to make yourself “larger than life” and generate a lot of noise. Jerry Seinfeld, a fellow guest on the show, mocked Tucci’s suggestions, which included traveling with an air horn tied around your neck.

Ray J
Mulaney brought R&B singer and television personality Ray J onto the show and described him as a “Black Forrest Gump,” noting that he had been a part of several cultural touchstones of the 21st century — though no mention of Kim Kardashian. During his interview on the show, Ray J discussed how he is in the process of divorcing his wife, Princess Love, to whom he has been married since 2016. The couple previously announced they were divorcing three times but called it off each time, until his wife in February said they had separated and were pursuing a divorce. “She was mad,” Ray J said after saying that he is heading to Africa to find his “queen.”

Lou Adler

Will Ferrell appeared as Lou Adler, the record and film producer and co-owner of the Roxy Theatre in West Hollywood. Adler has worked with music legends like the Mamas & the Papas and Carole King and produced films including Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke” and “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” Ferrell donned Adler’s famous look — a beret and colored sunglasses — and tried to cajole Mulaney into partying with him in a hilarious bit.



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