When John Mulaney returned to host SNL right before the election on Halloween, he unintentionally sparked some controversy thanks to a joke in his monologue, in which he called the election an “elderly man contest” and argued that no matter who ended up winning, “nothing much will change in the United States.” There was more context to the joke than that, but still, people got mad! And while reflecting on the whole thing on last night’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, Mulaney said the negative reaction was warranted. “I should have said ‘I very much want one to win over the other and there will be improvements if one wins.’ I deserve the backlash. I just forgot to do it,” he told Kimmel. “I forgot to make the joke good.” Just in case there was any confusion, Mulaney made it very clear to his critics that yes, he’s a Democrat who very much supported Biden: “I like people and I’m generally happy and not deeply angry, so I’m a Democrat.”
It turns out, though, that the election joke from October was not the most controversial SNL monologue joke Mulaney told in 2020. When he hosted the show on February 29, he made a leap year joke about how Julius Caesar became such a “powerful maniac” that he was stabbed to death by senators — after which Mulaney told the SNL audience, “That would be an interesting thing if we brought that back now!” Mulaney revealed to Kimmel that that punchline earned him a rare accomplishment: a Secret Service investigation. “I guess they opened a file on me because of the joke, and I have to say: Am I stoked there’s a file open on me? Absolutely. Did I enjoy it in the moment? Not so much,” he told Kimmel. Thankfully, Mulaney has since been cleared by the Secret Service — or at least he was told he had been cleared.
Later in the interview, Kimmel also asked Mulaney “what’s going on” with the recent news that he took a gig as a writer on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Mulaney offered a pretty thorough explanation about going crazy in quarantine and how he pitched the idea to Seth Meyers, but the whole thing is best summed up by something his psychiatrist told him: “Without external structure, I don’t have any confidence in you thriving.” Thankfully, Mulaney has found that much-needed structure: rambling to Meyers about ghosts and the royal family from the security of his Julian Casablancas trench coat. We all have to find sanity where we can get it these days.