New dad and recent Five-Timers Club inductee John Mulaney, who is currently on tour, is the titular podcast Friend on the next episode of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend. In the interview, Mulaney and O’Brien swap stories about SNL writing experiences, discuss O’Brien’s cameo during the February 26 SNL episode that Mulaney hosted, and dig into Mulaney’s writing process — or, apparently, lack thereof — for the stand-up act he’s currently touring: From Scratch.
The tour is fittingly titled because, according to Mulaney, the first time he performed the hour in May 2021, just months after leaving rehab, he took the stage with little more than some loose ideas and stories he wanted to workshop. “There might be times I’ve said I have a writing process. I have no writing process,” Mulaney tells O’Brien in the sneak peek from the podcast, below. As for how Mulaney is feeling right now while on tour, O’Brien says, “I can imagine it feeling like this is a very vulnerable time, but also this could be very cathartic.” “This is one of the greatest times in my life, and this is the best thing for me,” Mulaney replies.
In another clip from the episode, Mulaney tells O’Brien about the three-year period in which he and Simon Rich took on the one job at SNL that other writers avoided: writing the opening monologues. “My first week at SNL, he came up to me. He goes, ‘We’re going to write a monologue every week — because no one writes the monologue, and you can’t cut the monologue.’” The pair got so used to the monologue’s repetitive rhythms (O’Brien calls it “Hamburger Helper”) that they developed a mutual shorthand: “[Simon] used to call ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you very much. It’s great to be here hosting Saturday Night Live’ ‘F7’ … We were gonna try to make it a shortcut.”
Check out the rest when Mulaney’s episode of Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend drops on May 2.