What started as an afternoon obsession for comedians John Mulaney and Nick Kroll is about to turn in to something much more. Their characters, George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon—parodies of two ornery Upper West Side Jews Mulaney and Kroll once stumbled upon—will soon be the stars of Oh, Hello on Broadway, making its Broadway debut this fall.
Here’s Kroll on the origins of the characters in The Hollywood Reporter:
We saw these two guys buying individual copies of Never Have Your Dog Stuffed, Alan Alda’s autobiography, at the Strand [bookstore] back in 2005…We followed them around for a bit and just fell in love. They typify a very specific kind of New York personality.
Mulaney and Kroll have been doing some version of George and Gil since 2005, hosting a weekly comedy show at the Rafifi in character, before each of them ended up with jobs that took them away from the bit for a while—Mulaney as a stand-up and a writer for Saturday Night Live, and Kroll with his Comedy Central vehicle, Kroll Show. However, they weren’t quite ready to throw the corduroys and turtlenecks (George and Gil’s standard costumes) in the back of closet.
They started doing George and Gil on Kroll Show, and for a show that, despite critical acclaim, didn’t make much of a pop culture dent, the duo’s appearances have emerged as the most memorable sketches. Meanwhile, the pair started to appear as George and Gil on Comedy Bang! Bang!, an improvisational comedy podcast where they were able to flesh out George and Gil to an even greater degree.
The details of George and Gil’s relationship can start to get murky, but some threads have stayed consistent. George teaches creative writing at the fictitious SUNY Yonkers, hired on the strength of his novel Rifkin’s Dilemma, a Portnoy’s Complaint-style story of a young Jewish man obsessed with masturbation. He and Gil met while dodging the Vietnam draft and found in each other a partner for Steely Dan concerts, terrorizing local children, and, as they put it in their clipped pronunciation, “c’caine.”
George is the more abrasive of the two, while Gil tends toward doddering, but they both exemplify a type of New York “liberal racist” that have, according to them, done everything from getting cut from Comedy Central roasts to mistakenly encourage David Berkowitz. They also interrupt their shows by handing guests enormous quantities of tuna, a “prank” that has prompted them to refer to their fans as “tunaheads.”
After Kroll Show ended, the two took Gil and George on a sort of grand tour, appearing at theaters all over the country before a critically acclaimed limited run at the off-Broadway Cherry Lane Theater. Now, Oh, Hello on Broadway will begin its run at the Lyceum Theater, beginning previews on September 23 and running through January 9.
And if anyone I know is reading this, be aware that buying me tickets to this show would enter the pantheon of greatest Hanukkah gifts ever given.