Becky Portman: Why everyone loves John Mulaney

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - 5:17pm

John Mulaney

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In today’s tumultuous political climate, there aren’t many things we can agree on. We may not agree on the ideal thermostat temperature (72 degrees) or how much milk to put in your cereal (40 milliliters) or who is the best Coppola (Jason Schwartzman), but what we can all agree on is that we love John Mulaney. Find me someone who doesn’t adore this dimpled comedy star, I dare you. We love John Mulaney because he is:

A) Hilarious in a non-threatening way.

B) Kind of hot, also in a non-threatening way.

Here’s a fun game, walk into the UgLi (it gets better, I promise) and count how many John Mulaney meme laptop stickers you find. The fun part of the game is that you’ll find a lot. One time I was in The Michigan League and overheard not one, not two, but THREE conversations about how much they all loved John Mulaney. This anecdote is to prove that:

A) Everyone loves John Mulaney.

B) I am skilled at eavesdropping.

We love John Mulaney for pointing out his neuroses and tearing himself apart for our entertainment and pleasure. His observational humor makes us shout at the TV, “that happens all the time,” or “he gets me.” His standup perfectly combines tales from his childhood and his SNL days with a healthy heaping of self-deprecation. His stories of growing up make you think he was raised in suburban Illinois in the ’50s and not suburban Illinois in the late ’80s. Maybe he is a time traveler or an ageless wizard, which would explain why your parents like him too. There is no other explanation: John Mulaney must be a timeless wizard of comedy, bending time and space to make us laugh.

John Mulaney is the friend you bring home to meet your parents because parents love him. He is the guy who holds the door for people on the subway. He’s the guy who asks what floor when you get in an elevator with him. He is the friend who is a grandpa, but also down for anything. He is usually in bed by nine, but he’ll egg your ex’s house if you ask him to. He is the guy who has an extremely complicated order, but when the waitress brings him a different meal, he says nothing and pretends to enjoy it. He is the friend who kills it at trivia because he knows a lot of fun facts from being an unathletic kid and probably spent too much time at the Scholastic book fair. We love John Mulaney because he’s just so damn loveable.

But John Mulaney is so much more than his Emmy-winning stand up. We mustn’t forget his work for six seasons as a writer on Saturday Night Live. Usually writing alongside Simon Rich and Marika Sawyer, Mulaney thrived on the program creating such iconic characters as Stefon and Herb Welch (both played by my future husband Bill Hader). Mulaney has returned to Studio 8H twice to host the show, resurrecting sketches killed from back in his writing days in the form of Diner Lobster and Bodgea Bathroom. Mulaney also dazzled on Broadway (pronounced Broadway with an emphasis on the way) with his college improv buddy, Nick Kroll, in “Oh Hello.” Look how much college improv can help your career (@mom). Kroll also utilizes his buddy in his Netflix show “Big Mouth” to portray the awkwardness of Andrew Glouberman, the lightly mustached Jewish boy going through puberty, a role Mulaney was born to play. Mulaney’s recognizable voice was also featured in the form of Spider Ham / Peter Porker in the all-time best movie, the Oscar-winning “Spiderman into the Spiderverse.”  You can also find Mulaney on Bill Hader and Fred Armisen’s IFC show, “Documentary Now.” He co-wrote (alongside SNL alum Seth Meyers) and starred in the Sondheim-inspired third episode of the new season.

Mulaney’s comedy is simply genius and it makes me equal parts delighted, jealous and vermouth. Listening to his routine is like a symphony, with Mulaney acting as the comedic conductor. Each movement is timed perfectly to the beats of laughter and weaved together at the end in a crescendo of callbacks. God, I love John Mulaney, you love John Mulaney, we all freaking love John Mulaney!