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John Mulaney Talks About Debuting on Saturday Night Live With His Girl Scout Cookie Tale of Woe

When watching Saturday Night Live this weekend, Vulture was particularly pleased to see show writer (and New York stand-up comedy fixture) John Mulaney get a little face time on Weekend Update with a rant about the illogic of the Girl Scout cookie sales method. (“How come you have to know a child in a beret to get them?” he asked, and rightly so.) Mulaney is best known for regular appearances on VH1’s Best Week Ever, and he co-created the Comedy Central web series I Love the '30s; he can also still be seen around Manhattan on his days off performing his charmingly nerdy stand-up act. After two years writing for SNL, the cookies segment was his first significant on-camera appearance, so we called him in the aftermath to find out how he was handling his moment of glory.

Was that your first time being on camera at SNL?
Oh, no. I was once a clapboard operator in an Activia Yogurt sketch and I was once in an Update photo as a white Harlem Globetrotter. Those are my two most notable appearances.

When did you start writing for SNL?
August 2008. I knew Seth [Meyers] and a few other people from performing in the city, and I went in and auditioned for the show and was hired as a writer. I had just finished working at Important Things With Demetri Martin.

Was it disappointing to audition as a cast member and get a writing job instead?
No, no, no. I would never go into anything like that without really managed expectations. Like a lot of shots, it’s a long shot, and I was thrilled to be able to do it. Writing for that show was a dream job.

Is doing more on-camera things the goal?
I really love the job I have. Uh … and … it’s an amazing writing staff and an amazing cast and, uh, I really do like the job I have. And there you go. [Laughs.]

So did this bit come out of a deeply held personal rage about your inability to find Girl Scout Cookies?
I had trouble getting them last year and the year before, and I missed the cutoff last year to order them, and it was just really frustrating. The thing is, I’m not at the age yet [he’s 27] where a lot of my friends have kids who might be in the Scouts, so it’s even harder.

Isn’t there anyone on the SNL staff who can help?
Yes, there are some people on the SNL staff who have kids who are in the Scouts, and there have been some sign-up sheets around the office, so I will be able to get some this year. I was very happy a couple weeks ago when I saw some sign-up sheets around the coffee area. So I won’t get fooled again!

Have the Girl Scouts gotten in touch?
No, not yet. But I would not turn down a free batch of cookies.

Anything else bothering you that would make for a good rant?
The garbage trains. You know, that train that comes on the subway that’s filled with garbage. That is a slap in the face. You’re waiting for your train and you think you hear it coming and it’s just this pile of garbage. It’s just a punch in the stomach.

Isn’t that a bit too New York for SNL?
Uh, yeah. Forget that. Though I think I could bring the garbage train to a national audience with a photos and visual aids of what I’m talking about.

You co-wrote a movie for Tracy Morgan. Do you have a good story about him? Everyone seems to have one.
He’s been a lovely guy to work with. The first time we went over to his apartment, he showed us his baby sharks and Moray eels and his snakes, and that was really thrilling. And then he stood in front of all his tanks and he looked at us and he said, “These are all predators.”

With an ominous tone in his voice?
Like it was a situation he had found himself in.

Photo: Patrick McMullan