Arts, Movies, Television, Column

Heights Hiatus: Bronchitis, Raccoon Sex, and Puberty

One of the many perks of being born in Bakersfield, the cesspool of California, is that I was born with asthma. This condition is so common in Bakersfield that I thought it was normal to be born with asthma until I moved across the country for college. The air in that city is basically toxic to breathe.

Because people with asthma have what can really only be described as shitty lungs, they are more likely to get serious illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia. Now, I pay a lot of money to get it a lot more often because college has a way of making my chances of getting sick oh-so much higher. Luckily for me, this week, I had both bronchitis and “a touch of pneumonia” (real quote from my doctor) at the same time. Besides eliciting an invitation to spend the night at University Health Services for well-advised monitoring (that I politely declined because I know my body well and can tell if I need serious medical care, not because spending the night in a hospital bed seemed scary), I also had a pretty decent excuse to not go to my classes. This left me with plenty of time to lie in bed and binge watch whatever my heart desired.

I chose to watch everything John Mulaney- and Nick Kroll-related on Netflix: relatively vanilla stand-ups, horrible movies, raunchy cartoons, and outlandish broadway specials.

Let me preface this by clarifying my interest in the two comedians started during Spring Break in Bermuda, when I watched Oh, Hello on Broadway, a play starring Kroll and Mulaney as Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, two eccentric, old New Yorkers who are being kicked out of their Manhattan rent-controlled apartment. This set the bar for comedy incredibly high. Somehow the two made a long-winded story about Gil getting his raccoon girlfriend, who is actually a “false possum,” pregnant funny and—dare I say—almost charming. In my time of disease, I desperately needed politically incorrect jokes about “the f—king Dominicans,” Indian film students, and the Holocaust to make me laugh. Does that make me a bad person? Probably.

I was already familiar with Kroll, having watched Kroll Show on Comedy Central years ago and Sausage Party on a flight (watch the movie, but somewhere where strangers can’t see your screen) very recently, so I turned to Mulaney’s stand ups first. I thoroughly enjoyed the recollection of Mulaney’s fierce feminist standoff with a Blockbuster employee in New In Town, a special in which the comedian explains his complex identity as an Asian American woman.

Mulaney apparently enjoys picking apart dumb movie titles, including Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Back to the Future. According to Mulaney, you can’t get lost in New York City because the streets are numbered, so I guess my friends and me standing on a street corner in Greenwich Village for 10 minutes absolutely astounded that Siri didn’t understand how the route could possibly be confusing for us was quite the feat. In The Comeback Kid, Mulaney calls out Back to the Future for its misleading title as the characters actually go to the past. Unfortunately, I do not have an accompanying time travel-themed anecdote to continue my attempt to turn this medley review into a column.

Next I turned to Adult Beginners, a 2014 film with a generous 2.5/4 star rating from film critic Roger Ebert who died in 2013. The movie lacked Kroll’s signature irreverent candor and was not at all grounded in reality. As a CSOM student, I knew the scene in which New York-based financial analyst Jake (Nick Kroll) interrupts his firm’s meeting for a “family emergency” was nothing but a Hollywood myth intended to appeal to human emotion—anyone who has been to one CSOM class or seen Wolf of Wall Street knows the only thing that can pull a businessman away from a meeting is cocaine.

The last program I turned to was Big Mouth, a Netflix original cartoon about kids in—you guessed it—New York. Hormone monsters (Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph) guide Nick (Kroll) and Andrew (Mulaney) through puberty. Despite an overwhelming number of penis jokes at the onset, I actually found some of the show relatable. When the hormone monsteress tells Jessi (Jessi Klein) she has to want to “listen to Lana Del Rey on repeat while [she cuts] up all her T-shirts” after she gets her first period, I really felt like I understood my teenage years on a deeper level. Catcher in the Rye, A Clockwork Orange, and The Outsiders certainly didn’t prepare me for a decade of mood swings and angsty alternative music—probably because they are all coming-of-age novels with questionable male protagonists and I didn’t read The Bell Jar until senior year of high school.

So I guess what I learned this week is that bronchitis sucks, Nick Kroll and John Mulaney can make me laugh even when I know each giggle will be followed by a coughing fit, and I can’t even blame the drugs for this horrible column because antibiotics and steroids have no effect on writing abilities. Nevertheless, this column will end up on my “shitty Facebook dot com page.”

Featured Graphic by Anna Tierney / Heights Editor

March 25, 2018