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In a country where politics threaten to impact every decision — no matter how minute or unrelated — Idaho might seem like an unusual spot for John Mulaney to pack an arena.
But that’s precisely what the stand-up comedian is expected to do.
Mulaney, 39, will headline a 4,500-capacity performance at Idaho Central Arena in downtown Boise on Friday, Nov. 18, organizers announced this week. The show, part of his “From Scratch” tour, will be a sizable production, said Creston Thornton, president of promoter Live Nation’s mountain region.
“It should sell out pretty fast,” Thornton explained via email.
How is this possible in off-the-charts conservative Idaho?
After all, Mulaney has “donated thousands of dollars to liberal and left politicians like Bernie Sanders,” Esquire magazine wrote in 2019. He was seen at a Black Lives Matter protest in 2020. A year ago, Mulaney opened — along with MAGA villain Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — at a concert by The Strokes to raise money for New York City mayoral candidate Maya Wiley.
Yet, with occasional exceptions, Mulaney steers clear of divisive politics in his act.
Also, he’s talented and hilarious.
“For my money, he’s the funniest person in America,” Seth Meyers, host of “Late Night” on NBC, told The New York Times. Meyers, a former head writer at “Saturday Night Live,” hired Mulaney as a writer in 2008. The job lasted four seasons. “He’s this combination of great writing and great performing you so rarely see,” Meyers added.
Mulaney has wide appeal, whether riffing on becoming a dad or commenting on his battles with drug addiction and sobriety.
“Mr. Mulaney has earned a reputation as a comic’s comic, a choirboy type who makes the sort of embittered observations you’d expect from a much older, more cynical man,” the Times observed in the 2018 profile, published days before his “Kid Gorgeous at Radio City” Netflix special aired. It was filmed at Radio City Music Hall, where Mulaney sold out seven nights.
Personal challenges — including divorce, rehab and upsetting fans by having controversial comedian Dave Chappelle open a show — have altered the “choirboy” image more recently. But don’t be surprised when tickets to Mulaney’s 8 p.m. performance move quickly in Boise. They become available to the general public for $39.50 to $149.50 beginning at 10 a.m. Friday at Ticketmaster. A presale already started with password “DAZZLE.”
It also doesn’t hurt that touring comedy seems strong in Idaho’s capital city right now.
On that note, here’s a related warning: The upcoming Tom Segura comedy show July 21 at Idaho Central Arena? It’s down to fewer than 300 remaining tickets, Thornton said — all singles.