From his short-lived sitcom on Fox, to his Netflix standup specials, stint on Broadway in “Oh, Hello” and voice acting-appearances in “Big Mouth” and “Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse,” comedian John Mulaney has risen from relative obscurity to become one of the country’s favorite comedians.
Before appearing as a host for “Saturday Night Live” last spring, Mulaney was an “SNL” writer for five years. (Fun fact: He was the reason Bill Hader was always laughing during his appearances, as Mulaney would change the jokes on the cue-cards so that when Hader was performing, it was the first time he was seeing most of them.) This weekend, he’s back for a second hosting gig, where I’m sure there are some things you’d like to see. Let’s take a look at a few.
1. A Musical Monologue
If there’s something Lorne Michaels, “SNL” creator and producer, seems to be a sucker for, it’s a big, flashy musical monologue. But these aren’t limited to just musicians — everyone from Saoirse Ronan to Kristen Wiig has performed one. And surprisingly, it’s not as far-fetched for Mulaney to perform.
Not only has the comedian wrote songs for and starred in a Sondheim parody episode of the IFC series “Documentary Now,” but during his first hosting, Mulaney wrote and performed in a “Les Miserable/Lobster”-themed sketch.
In addition to these promising credits, the comedian recently admitted, on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” an unrealized dream of his: performing in his high school musical. While he never got to perform in a musical on stage (he simply never made the cut), will he get to fulfill his dream on Saturday night? I sure hope so.
2. A Revival of “Drag Brunch”
“Drag Brunch” was one of my favorite sketches from Mulaney’s previous hosting gig. The skit features two couples who attend a touristy restaurant where the whole crew gets insulted by the waitstaff. The particular theme of this sketch involves drag queen waitresses who get “sassy” with their customers.
Most of the table receives fun, light-hearted burns — except for one diner, whose “burns” dig too deep. Though the end of this sketch was pretty conclusive, “Saturday Night Live” is known for reviving many of its popular skits. Audiences could expect to see a “Drag Coffee Shop” or something similar in the future.
3. More Riffing With Pete Davidson
Despite their nine-year age gap and completely different vibes, “Saturday Night Live” cast member Pete Davidson and Mulaney have become good friends over the past year. They’ve done everything from attending Steely Dan and Bob Dylan concerts to switching outfits during their mini stand-up tour.
Just a few weeks ago, Davidson appeared in a segment where he riffs on Clint Eastwood’s latest and wildest movie, “The Mule.” Halfway through the skit, Mulaney joined Davidson in the segment, much to the audience’s surprise. I would love to see another segment like this one, where the comedians riff on — well, anything really. I could listen to these two riff on molecular biology.
4. Appearances in Beloved Recurring Sketches
As I mentioned earlier, “SNL” fans go crazy for recurring sketches. When a sketch does well, writers tend to recreate it over and over again, with as many hosts and minor changes as they can — until, of course, audiences get sick of it. In my opinion, there are two sketches in particular that have not been dusted off in a while that would both be a perfect fit for Mulaney.
“High School Theater Show,” which first premiered in 2014 with host Cameron Diaz, has been revived multiple times, the last being in December 2016 when Emma Stone appeared. The sketch features a wannabe avant-garde high school theater troupe whose “activism” has good intentions but isn’t exactly 100 percent there. If you went to high school in recent years, you either knew these kids or were these kids (I am not ashamed to admit I was the latter).
The sketch is niche — a quality that Mulaney tends to gravitate toward from time to time in his standup. Can’t you just envision him marching around stage in a black scarf, telling the world to just save the bees, already? “High School Theater Show” would also give the teenage-spirited Mulaney another opportunity to live out his theater-kid dream.
Since its last appearance in November, the recurring sketch “Close Encounter” also seems due for a comeback. The sketch first appeared in 2015 with Ryan Gosling and became notorious for causing both the host and the experienced cast members to break.
Though popular, the sketch has seemingly run its self into the ground. However, with the previous variants of the sketch featuring Santa Claus and ghosts, it may be interesting to see how Mulaney’s experiences with a werewolf or a leprechaun differed from past features.
5. Some Sort of Steely Dan Reference
If there’s one thing Mulaney is passionate about, it’s the jazz-pop fusion group Steely Dan. Based on the fact that he’s seen them in concert for the past 12 years in a row, I would not be surprised if the band gets a mention or an inspired sketch.
I’ll admit that I know about as much about Steely Dan as Pete Davidson, so I am not exactly sure what this would entail, but I guess fans will have to wait and see.
6. Nick Kroll
Since meeting in college, Mulaney and fellow comedian Nick Kroll have collaborated a number of times, most notably in “Oh, Hello” on Broadway, in Netflix’s “Big Mouth” and in hosting the 2017 Independent Spirit Awards together.
It’s always far-fetched to predict a cameo, especially because Kroll is slightly more obscure than Mulaney, but after this reunion of “The Office,” I guess anything is possible for late night television.
7. A Break
Whether you love them or you think they’re wholly unprofessional, breaks (when an actor smiles or laughs while playing a character) are bound to happen just about every episode. I personally love them in moderation, but they seem to have a diminished effect when done too frequently or just to get a laugh (looking at you, Jimmy Fallon).
That being said, I especially love when either the seasoned professionals or someone who doesn’t break often, breaks. During his first episode hosting for “SNL,” Mulaney didn’t break, so it may be interesting to see just one sketch where no one can seem to keep it together, a la Debbie Downer.
Tune into “Saturday Night Live” this Saturday, March 2 at 11:30 EST on NBC to make sure that this tall child doesn’t keep burning the candle on both ends.