Theater

Sacred Cows

Talking SNL and Congo Drums with John Mulaney

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AT 30, comedian John Mulaney has done more with his comedy career than many aspiring comics can even dream of. He's written and performed for Saturday Night Live; he worked on VH1's Best Week Ever; he wrote for Important Things with Demetri Martin; and he has a 2009 album called The Top Part and 2012's New in Town. Mulaney will be bringing his charming, affable act to Helium this weekend, and we chatted for a bit by phone about his work and his act.

MERCURY: How did you get started?

JOHN MULANEY: I had wanted to be a comedian since I was very young. Originally, I wanted to be a nightclub entertainer like Ricky Ricardo from I Love Lucy. I took conga drum classes as a kid. For a couple of weeks. That didn't pan out. Then I did improv and sketch comedy in high school and college. I started doing stand-up when I was 20 years old. I was a junior in college and spent the summer in New York, and started doing open mics. Then after college I moved to New York City.

Where you were an immediate overnight sensation, of course!

Yes! I was one of the big, really hot temps who also happened to do stand-up at night. What it was right away was fun. I had a lot of fun from the very beginning. And a lot of the people who are my best friends now, we started out together.

You wrote for Saturday Night Live for a while, and also appeared on a couple of episodes, during "Weekend Update." Are you still writing for them?

Occasionally. I'm working on some other projects and am not writing for them regularly. But I pop in and out as long as they'll let me.

You released your last stand-up special New in Town about a year ago, in January 2012. What are you working on now?

A new stand-up special. A one-hour special I'm writing and working on. I haven't taped it yet so I don't know when it will come out. I'll be touring a lot this year, going to a lot of different cities. I haven't done a lot of roadwork the past few years, so I'm excited to do that.

For people who aren't familiar with your work, what can they expect from your material?

Stories about me being kind of a stupid idiot. Really deep, cutting-edge stuff about topics such as Donahue and Peter, Paul, and Mary. I really go after the big sacred cows.

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