Of all my collaborations with the great Eli Bolin (Found, Co-op, Wally Flynn, Volleygirls, Skippyjon Jones, In the Air, Schmoozy Togetherness, etc.) the most exciting and high-profile project came this summer in the form of a children's musical variety show, helmed by one of the biggest names in comedy, John Mulaney. After the success of Original Cast Album: Co-op, which garnered both an Emmy nomination and cult fandom, John called on Eli again to write songs for his newest Netflix project, John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch. Co-written with John's longtime SNL collaborator Marika Sawyer and directed by Documentary Now founder Rhys Thomas, the special dropped on Dec. 24 after a lot of anticipation and an aggressive media blitz, including a billboard in Times Square! Starring John, 15 incredible kids, and an impressive list of guest stars (Jake Gyllenhaal, André de Shields, David Byrne, Richard Kind, Annaleigh Ashford, and Natasha Lyonne), the show quickly earned a 100% Fresh Rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and jumped to the top 10 Spotify soundtracks. I music-directed the special alongside Mike Pettry, who orchestrated and produced the album; Mike has been another one of Eli's frequent collaborators through the years, having worked on Found, Volleygirls, and an original Christmas piece called The Last Song of Eddie Scourge. Perhaps the greatest gift of the entire special was the trust that John gave me and Eli to hire our own musicians and background vocalists. We utilized the talents our favorite people, including Found alumni Orville Mendoza and Nick Blaemire, Story Pirates bassist Brendan O'Grady, and our amazing wives, Allison and Chrissy.
"“There’s so much care and craft in Sack Lunch Bunch. All the musical numbers work, and occasionally they’re breathtakingly good.” – Kathryn VanArendonk, VULTURE
THE NEW YORK TIMES: A Comedy Special for Kids That Gets Their Dark Sense of Humor
"The highlights are the stylishly shot musical numbers led by these youngsters, including a Busby Berkeley-inspired ode to noodles and a little bit of butter, the only food worth eating, according to Orson Hong, a white-suited kid who delivers his song with irresistible panache." – Jason Zinoman, THE NEW YORK TIMES
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch” is a brilliant, multi-layered piece of performance art.
"If you only watch one hour of television this week, make it this ridiculously silly comedy special from Big Mouth's John Mulaney. John, who has no kids of his own but seems to have a general understanding of how they work, made this variety kids program featuring musical numbers, skits, and scenes of John just hanging out with young'uns. There were at least three parts that were so funny that I was left gasping for air and nearly died. It was worth it, and I will risk my life again." – Tim Surrette, TV GUIDE
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch: A Children's Show for Grown-Ups
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: John Mulaney, some huge guest stars, and a group of talented kids bring a quirky, hilarious, musical children's TV special to Netflix
"The songs are complex and catchy, producing earworms in an assortment of genres, guaranteed to leave you either humming full tunes or just repeating the phrase "Let's all see what's on kids' minds / The guest star's name is Richard Kind" from the opening song over and over again." – Daniel Fienberg, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
SALON: John Mulaney's 'Sack Lunch Bunch' is a peculiar holiday gift that's a combo of 'Mister Rogers' and 'SNL'
"A sincere showcase for talented children's unblemished imaginations, John Mulaney's Netflix special makes for a sharply funny send-off to 2019" – Ben Travers, INDIEWIRE
THE AV CLUB: The Sack Lunch Bunch is an unconventional package, but its ingredients are pure John Mulaney
"The real highlight of John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch, however, are the musical numbers... The songs are weird but funny, and never resort to cheap jokes or gross-out humor, as much as comedy writers seem to think that children saying inappropriate things is the height of hilarity." – Gena Radcliffe, THE SPOOL