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Photograph: Courtesy of Just for LaughsTWO TIMING Schaal and Mulaney (bottom) join forces.

Double our pleasure

Two comics with a Chicago past team up at this year's Just for Laughs fest.


Chirpy-voiced Kristen Schaal is an odd bird whose quirky comedy has landed her recurring roles in Flight of the Conchords and The Daily Show. SNL writer John Mulaney delivers quick-witted zingers with the polish of an old-timey pro. The duo pair up for Double Threat Friday 18 at Just for Laughs. We asked the real-life friends about…

…how threatening their comedy is, given the title Double Threat.
John Mulaney From the looks of Kristen and I, we could either sell you a Bible or maybe let you cut in front of us in line without saying anything.
Kristen Schaal I will kill you…with laughter.

…their comedy styles.
JM She’s a weird girl and I’m a weird guy. There’s something for poorly adjusted women and something for poorly adjusted men.
KS We’re both nice. Nice and pasty. John has a style that’s almost a throwback to Jack Benny or Dean Martin. I’ve been told I have sort of a Fanny Brice quality. Maybe we just remind people of old times.

…being inappropriately billed with another comic.
JM I opened in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for a guitar comic who only did songs about rival towns in Iowa.
KS One time I had to go right after an incredible juggler. That’s someone you never want to follow. There’s nothing more mesmerizing than a skilled juggler.

…their dream project together, other than stand-up.
JM We pitched a show where I’d be a Cuban bandleader and she’d be my wife trying to get into my show. I’m kidding.
KS An extravagant dinner party.

…their lives in Chicagoland.
JM I went to St. Clement grammar school and then St. Ignatius High School—two very different saints. I went to Georgetown at age 18 and never really came back.
KS I went to school at Northwestern so I lived in Evanston for three years before I transferred.

…practicing comedy here.
JM When I was about 17, I did stand-up at places like the Note in Wicker Park. After college, I would come back and do Chicago Underground Comedy and Zanies.
KS I took classes at the Second City Conservatory and was on a team at iO called Space Mountain.

…who or what left an impression on them.
JM There were fun comedy theater programs at places like Victory Gardens or the Piven School in Evanston. Those places were the first time I got to be funny in a productive way.
KS Rachel Dratch left a huge mark. When you watched her in an improv set, she was a machine. I’d never seen anything like it.

…a failed joke.
JM A joke that worked for one week was one about how I went up to a movie ticket window and said, “I’d like one ticket to Mr. Magorium’s Chocolate Emporium,” and when they told me it was Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, I’d say, “Oh, no, never mind.” That worked the week the movie came out and never again.
KS The biggest bomb I ever had was when I created a character who was completely inarticulate and she’d act out famous movies, and because they were so famous, people could identify what the movies are even though they’re being told in gibberish. It worked one time so I was like, This thing is solid, and then I tried it again and it was a miserable failure.

…their best joke ever.
JM The thing I’m most excited about now is a story about how I tried to get a Xanax prescription and ended up getting a prostate exam.
KS The Law & Order audition, where I basically act out an audition I have for SVU while eating some sort of chocolate pastry, doesn’t fail.

Double Threat with Schaal and Mulaney happens Friday 18.

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