Saturday Night Live scribe John Mulaney returns to his stand-up roots with a new special.“There’s nothing about me when I walk onstage that makes you think, ‘This guy is craaazy,’ ” says comedian John Mulaney. “I’m a nice young man who is polite and wants people to like him.”
But the permanently boyish 29-year-old Mulaney admits he can have pretty off-the-wall and outlandish thoughts, some of which he’ll be sharing in his latest stand-up special, New in Town, premiering on Comedy Central on Jan. 28 and being released as a CD/DVD on Jan. 31.
One of the rising voices in American comedy, Mulaney has seen his stand-up skills land him spots as a writer for the cable series Important Things with Demetri Martin and, for the past four seasons, on Saturday Night Live, after Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler saw him perform at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. “Stand-up’s always been the constant — it’s my favorite thing to do,” he says. “But as a byproduct, it can generate some cool gigs.”
A skilled sketch writer with an absurdist flair, Mulaney has penned some of the most memorable features on SNL’s “Weekend Update” segment, conjuring exaggerated versions of politicos like former New York governors David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer, as well as co-creating easily excitable trend-trawling club kid Stefon, played by Bill Hader.
Mulaney notes that writing for SNL offers a different exercise than his stage act. “In stand-up, people need to get to know you,” he says. “Some jokes only work after you’ve done a half-hour and [the audience] starts to like you. I can’t have a bunch of actors come out and sell my demented opinions immediately.”
Mulaney plans to tour the country in support of New in Town, but only after the current SNL season wraps in May. It’s difficult to do both at once, he says, though he admits to squeezing a few gigs in here and there. “I’ll occasionally sneak off and do sets on Tuesday or Wednesday nights after I’ve been up for 24 hours straight writing, so I’m a little loopy when I get up there, which is fun,” he says. “But for the majority of touring I’m going to do, I’m hoping to be a little more coherent.”
My Favorite >SNL alums:
“I remember watching Lovitz on the show in, like, 1987, and thinking, ‘This is exactly what I like.’ He did this thing called ‘Get to Know Me!’ on ‘Weekend Update’ that I loved. I recently did a thing on ‘Update’ called ‘I Love It,’ and I was embarrassed how much I wanted it to be an homage to [Lovitz].”
“Phil Hartman as the Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer is a favorite. I think they only did that twice, but it was just so memorable. When Bill Hader and I would write our Eliot Spitzer segments on ‘Update,’ we were always kind of imitating Hartman’s Frank Sinatra. Now when you think of Sinatra, it’s always that guy who was decimating people — but that’s really the Hartman version.”