Nick Kroll and John Mulaney on Oh, Hello’s Biggest Audience Yet

Gil Faizon (Nick Kroll) and George St. Geegland (John Mulaney) are gearing up to bring their production of “Oh, Hello On Broadway” from stage to television screens across the world. “Oh, Hello On Broadway” premieres today, June 13, 2017 globally on Netflix after a 138 performance record at Broadway’s Lyceum Theatre. See for yourself how two legendary bachelors of New York’s Upper West Side, Gil Faizon and George St Geegland, created the greatest work of art of the 21st or any century. Our own Amma Marfo sat down with John and Nick to talk about the Netflix premiere.

If John Mulaney is to be believed, the success of Oh, Hello, his joint project with Nick Kroll about two septuagenarians with a penchant for tuna-based pranks, the appeal of their off-Broadway-turned-touring-turned-Broadway show is as unlikely as the appeal of an actual tuna sandwich. “It’s like this second chicken, but it’s like gross. It’s so weird[…], like, “oh I’ll take some gross-ass fish from a can and mix it up with mayonnaise, and put it on white bread and everyone would be like, ‘I’d like that.’”

Unlikely or not, Kroll and Mulaney’s Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland made their latest big move Tuesday, to Netflix. The acclaimed production was filmed toward the tail end of its run at the Lyceum Theatre, and adds to the streaming service’s considerable comedy offerings. With that said, Kroll is quick to point out that this show is different from many others that have occupied the coveted Tuesday release slot this year:

“A lot of times when you watch plays on TV, they feel really flat. But it’s just different when you’re watching something [live]. So we did our best to film it in a way that feels like the play, but also more cinematic, like the teleplays you watched that were shot on sound stages so you’d have moments of that. To just make it feel more dynamic. The weird thing is it’s not a stand up special- most people are used to seeing a stand up special on Netflix. We’ve done something that’s not a stand up special, but not a classic play either.”

Those who saw the show previously live, either at the Lyceum or in its touring form (as I did), should still tune in for this version- it continued to evolve even over the course of its Broadway run. “[A]s much as we were trying to get the funniest jokes we could, it was also ‘what’s the story that makes the most sense?’ or ‘what is the most cogent version of this?'” The answers they found created a dynamic experience during the 138-show Broadway run, including the introduction of a new character that Mulaney notes was gradually improvised between September and January at the Lyceum. The only spoiler I’ll share? “Now it’s considered one of the greatest love stories ever told,” Kroll shared proudly. Mulaney agreed with an “Absolutely.”

The story of actor Gil Faizon and playwright George St. Geegland could too, go down as one of the greatest love stories ever told. Developed over a decade ago by Kroll and Mulaney, the characters gelled previously through shows at the Largo and later on Kroll’s Comedy Central sketch series Kroll Show. Their relationship evolved in that time, and one of the key points that shines in the play is the conflict between the two men- a conflict that very nearly didn’t come to be.

“I had a problem with that,” Mulaney recalls, thinking about the show at the Largo in Los Angeles where Gil and George got in their first fight. “I didn’t like it at first. I was like, “Nah, it’s them against the world. We shouldn’t do this.” I remember the first time we ran it, and I was like ‘I don’t like yelling at Gil.’” But he warmed to the idea: “by the end of Broadway, I loved yelling at Gil.”

For those familiar with Mulaney and Kroll’s other work, the emergence of Mulaney as the yeller of the relationship may seem striking; Mulaney’s open and amiable persona paints Kroll’s often more brash and bravado-laden filmography (including two characters with “douche” in their names) as the likely aggressor. But the pair relished the opportunity to play against those types. Said Mulaney, “what became evident was because I never yell at anyone in real life, I have so much saved up. It was like always there.” Kroll added, “I think it’s a chance for both of us to exercise different things. Someone once described the show to us as ‘Oh, George is an asshole and Gil is a baby,’ underneath all of it. And that’s fun!”

The unpredictability of the live show shines through despite its filmed, almost cinematic look nature. Notable for its wide slate of guests, Oh, Hello was a hot attraction for celebrities in and around New York during its run. And while I won’t share whose appearance is highlighted in the special, we did have the chance to talk about guest spots by Mo Rocca (who got accidentally stabbed by the toothpicks in the “prahnk” sandwich), Steve Martin (who kept his Three Amigos suit, but often doesn’t wear it), and Matthew Broderick (who appeared on the one night where, due to food poisoning, Mulaney finally reached the point where too much tuna “was not a good prank.”), as well as audience cameos from Edie Falco and Wolf Blitzer.

With all the star power that Mulaney and Kroll’s “limited run vanity project” (Mulaney’s words!) has attracted, one has to ask: Is this the end for Gil and George? While Kroll and Mulaney admitted to talking about it, very little is set in stone. The idea of them giving tours on New York City buses was floated briefly, before Kroll admitted, “they’re not allowed on most of those.” But the front-running idea? “They’re going to do the Amazing Race,” said Kroll. Mulaney added a twist to the proceedings: George and Gil will compete as a quartet, “with Dr. Ben Carson and Gene Simmons.”

Catch George and Gil ahead of their now-rumored Amazing Race appearance in Oh, Hello, now streaming on Netflix.

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Amma Marfo

Amma Marfo is a writer, speaker, and podcaster based in Boston, MA. Her writing has appeared in Femsplain, The Good Men Project, Pacific Standard, and Talking Points Memo. Chances are good that as you're reading this, she's somewhere laughing.
Amma Marfo
Amma Marfo
Amma Marfo is a writer, speaker, and podcaster based in Boston, MA. Her writing has appeared in Femsplain, The Good Men Project, Pacific Standard, and Talking Points Memo. Chances are good that as you're reading this, she's somewhere laughing.