You might not know the name John Mulaney, but odds are you’ve seen his face a lot lately. And you maybe wondered why that tall child is wearing a suit and talking about Ice T. He’s cropped up on Saturday Night Live recently to help out his old friend Stefon (Bill Hader). He’s gifted Cardi B a “cardi g” cardigan for her baby on The Tonight Show. And he even hosted Saturday Night Live himself recently! Now he has a new special on Netflix, so it’s never been a better time to be John Mulaney. But who is Mr. Mulaney, really?!
To answer that you have to go back to his roots: Saturday Night Live. The comedian got his start on the sketch comedy show way back in 2008. He auditioned for the show to be a cast member but found himself on the writing staff. And odds are he’s written some of your favorite sketches from the past decade. Not only is he the man responsible for “Stefon” (co-created with character actor Bill Hader), but he brought us the grouchy “Herb Welch” sketches as well as the hilarious “What’s That Name” where Justin Timberlake can’t remember his bandmates names but Lady Gaga knows a random fan she met on the street. Mulaney basically nails offbeat, absurd comedy. Which is exactly why if you don’t already love him, you will.
Wait! But on the Monday when Jon Hamm first hosted in October 2008 all of us went to the pitch meeting dressed as Mad Men characters. Then “as part of the joke” everyone started day drinking. Jon Hamm, new to the show, walked in to be greeted by drunk Comic-Con. It was the best pic.twitter.com/QmWOYQIJSc
— John Mulaney (@mulaney) April 14, 2018
His time on Saturday Night Live jump-started his career and gave him the best stories. Like the time the entire staff got day drunk and dressed as Mad Men characters to welcome Jon Hamm to hosting the show. Where was our invite?! Mulaney proved his worth on the writing staff and eventually even won an Emmy for writing a Justin Timberlake musical monologue. So basically he’s good at everything.
His post-SNL career took a little bit of a downturn in 2014, which is likely why you’re just starting to hear about him now. He left the sketch comedy show to pursue his first love: sitcoms. He wrote, created, and produced the sitcom Mulaney which was, predictably, loosely based on his life. It was also loosely watched, poorly reviewed, and canceled after just a few episodes. But it’s fine because it gave him more time to do expand his absurdist comedic talents outside of traditional sitcom TV.
How far out? All the way to Broadway! Mulaney and fellow funny-man Nick Kroll are completely responsible for the magic that is Oh, Hello! on Broadway. Mulaney plays George St. Geegland, Kroll is Gil Faizon and together they are elderly New Yorkers who hate having too much tuna on their sandwich. All while loving Steely Dan. No worries if you’re nowhere near New York City, where the show originally ran because it’s on Netflix. ~Blessed~ by the Netflix gods. Also on Netflix? Mulaney’s vast category of stand-up specials.
Mulaney’s bread and butter are his superb stand-up specials. If you’re like me, you discovered him while browsing around Netflix’s comedy selection and landing on New In Town. And if you’re also like me, you’re totally psyched a random Netflix pick panned out. As great of a writer as Mulaney is, his delivery of the lines he writes is even better. He’s confident, but also seems charmingly insecure. And his standup is so relatable you’ll find yourself quoting it without thinking (I use “bone dry!” in far too many conversations).
New In Town brought us a young, green John Mulaney before The Comeback Kid gave us a jaded, hardened Mulaney. Just kidding, he’s still just as affable and baby-faced as ever in that special! He even scored yet another Emmy nom for the writing for his special. Mulaney takes mundane stories and turns them into hilarious detail-laden tales about airlines, Bill Clinton, and quicksand. His entertaining take on life is exactly why we love him and are over the moon about his new stand-up special Kid Gorgeous.
Mulaney has begun achieving true success and acclaim since leaving SNL — which is probably why he was asked back to host! And I’m not saying this because I’m such a huge fan (okay, maybe a little) but his episode was most definitely a high point of the current SNL season. He even brought back some blasts from the past! Two of the funniest sketches of the night — “Lobster Diner” and “Switcheroo” — were sketches he wrote and failed to get on-air during his writing tenure on the show. I guess when you’re a pretty famous comedian you can finally get your fave weird sketches on the air.
Mulaney acknowledged his unlikely hosting gig saying, “For someone no one knows, and whose biggest credit on that show was for not being on camera, it was perfect.”
A failed sitcom-star and stand-up wunderkind took SNL by storm with most of the audience not knowing his name which is crazy. But he owned it and was received with rave reviews for his episode. And we’re pretty sure he made more than a few new fans that day.
If you’re not on the John Mulaney bandwagon yet, it’s time to hop on. He has the potential to be the next Jerry Seinfeld or Steve Martin if his upward trajectory continues. Hosting SNL, hanging out with Cardi B, and being Netflix’s golden boy is just the beginning. Now can someone please get this man a show that doesn’t immediately bomb?!