TV

Mr. Music From John Mulaney’s ‘Sack Lunch Bunch’ Is This Holiday Season’s Best TV Moment

Social media is typically the best means for which to make something go viral, whether one’s working out of an office, or a classroom, or out of their homes. Over the holidays, however, when families spend a lot of time together (too much time together?), the virality stays in the home. For instance, every person who has visited my house over the holiday has been subjected to Mr. Music, the Jake Gyllenhaal character in John Mulaney’s Netflix special, John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch.

The entire Netflix special is fantastic. It’s a kids’ show by and for kids, but written in a way to also appeal to adults, with or without kids. It’s modeled after traditional kids shows, like Electric Company and Sesame Street, but it tackles heavier themes, like “What is your worst fear?” a question that the special repeatedly returns to with each of the child cast members who are afraid of, among other things, home invasions or dying in their sleep. Adults will recognize the style of show from their own childhoods, while children will appreciate it as a kids’ show, although a lot of the jokes will go over their heads.

For instance, there is a story-time segment in the special about a kid who wakes up in the middle of the night, finds that his dad is dressed in drag, and follows him to a drag show, where he performs badly and is judged harshly by the drag queens in the audience. There’s a nice lesson in the end. To an adult, it’s a funny story. To a kid — particularly one versed in RuPaul’s Drag Race or Drag Queen Story Time at their local libraries or JCCs — it’s just a nice kid’s story about a kid and his very normal father who goes to drag shows.

It’s a phenomenally funny special, but Gyllenhaal’s Mr. Music is transcendent. Mr. Music’s song — sung in a calypso melody — operates off of a recurring theme on Sesame Street, which is basically that music can be found anywhere (see, e.g., this video). Mr. Music, however, stayed up late and didn’t properly prepare, so all of his examples of finding music anywhere backfires on him: He tries to find music in throwing a shirt in a hamper, for instance, or tap dancing in a tempur pedic bed, but all of the examples provide no sound, which increasingly frustrates Mr. Music until his mustache is barely hanging on and he is moments away from having an emotional breakdown in front of the children.

By the end of the segment, both kids and adults watching are in stitches. It is one of the most gloriously funny things of 2019.

John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch is currently available on Netflix. Mr. Music arrives in the final ten minutes of the special.

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