OCTOBER 06: John Mulaney and Susan Morris speak on stage during the 2018 New Yorker Festival on October 6, 2018 in New York City.

Thos Robinson/Getty Images for The New Yorker

John Mulaney Leaves Them Laughing at his 'New Yorker Festival' Appearance

October 08, 2018 - 2:13 pm

By Elizabeth Sherwood

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- John Mulaney has had quite a year. He co-hosted the annual Film Independent Spirit Awards for the second year in a row, he co-wrote and co-starred in Oh, Hello on Broadway; stars in Netflix’s Big Mouth; he hosted an episode of SNL; and recently finished a national tour of his stand-up show, Kid Gorgeous for which he won an Emmy for Writing for a Variety Special.  On Saturday night he was a guest at the New Yorker Festival, interviewed by Susan Morrison, articles editor and editor of the magazine's Talk of the Town and Shouts & Murmurs features. 

The Festival, which describes itself as a “three-day celebration of ideas and the arts” and features interviews with artists of all varieties in a number of locations across the city, made headlines in September when it included Steve Bannon as one of its featured interviewees--causing many other guests to drop out. John Mulaney was one of these celebrities. David Remnick, the editor-in-chief of the New Yorker, disinvited Bannon and Mulaney was back on board.

The talk, interspersed with clips from early in his stand-up career to a recent sketch from his appearance as SNL host, included a discussion about the genesis of his jokes and his off-beat comedic style.

One of the most memorable questions of the night, from the audience: In this time of political and social upheaval and turmoil in America, with all these youth looking to you to develop their sense of humor and help determine what is right and wrong, do you feel any pressure?

“They’re looking to me to determine what’s right or wrong?” he asked incredulously. He hopes that isn’t the case. But everyone can adapt. Comedians are “constantly adapting yourself, your jokes, and what you’re doing to the room, to the people, and to the audience.” In that way, it’s crazy to think that comedians can’t adapt to a new political climate. “If you’re not evolving as a comedian, political correctness or not, you’re dead.”

He amused the crowd with stories about making Bill Hader break on SNL, about writing monologue jokes for Mick Jagger, about his love of diners and Spalding Gray and his pastime of observing eccentric old New Yorkers at the Strand. And his very responsive audience appreciated the old stories as well as the new ones. His increasing fame--and Saturday night's adulation--haven't gotten to his head, though. Mr. Mulaney claims to “ride the subway and put on my spats just like you.”