John Mulaney’s Rolex Story Is Even Worse Than We Thought

Why don’t you name a more horrifying way to lose $3,000? Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images

One of the more elaborate stories John Mulaney shares in his recent Netflix special Baby J involves a harebrained scheme he concocted in 2020 to prevent himself from buying drugs, in which he instructed his accountant to forbid him from taking cash out from his savings. As Mulaney recounts in the special, while he was desperate for drug money, he realized his credit card still worked, so he purchased a brand new Rolex for $12,000, then sold it immediately for half its original price to a man in the Diamond District we may or may not have tracked down. “Why don’t you name a better way to make $6,000 in five minutes by only spending $12,000?” he tells the audience. As it turns out, even $6,000 is an overestimation of the value Mulaney derived from that transaction, because as the comedian explained during a June 16 appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast Awards Chatter, he accidentally threw $3,000 of it … in the trash.

“I put three grand in an Apple shopping bag,” Mulaney says in the episode. “I thought, I must have thrown that Apple bag away. I was in a 20-floor apartment building in the West Village back then, and I went through almost all the trash in the basement … Didn’t find it.” Minutes later, Mulaney affects a somber tone and does an impression of what the same story would sound like if he told it in the style of a confessional-comedy special. “I did want to make this as laugh-heavy as possible,” he says. “I didn’t want to tell that story of, you know, ‘And there I was, selling a watch I had just bought, and I felt so small.’ I didn’t want to have that tone, you know? I really wanted to present these stories almost as if I was proud of them. Because, at that moment, I was! I made six grand in cash by only spending twelve grand. ‘I’ll put it in this Apple bag — don’t worry about that!’”

Elsewhere in the podcast, host Scott Feinberg and Mulaney talk through a retrospective of his career to this point, and Feinberg caps it off by asking Mulaney — in front of audience member Janet Yang, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences — whether he’d ever consider hosting the Oscars. “Sure, why not?” Mulaney replies. “It would be really fun. It’s hosting the Academy Awards. Johnny Carson did that. Kimmel’s so great, though. I’d probably rather watch Jimmy do it than do it. But imagine that: Me, hosting the Academy Awards! Me in a tux, right out there!” So, if Mulaney winds up as the host of the 2024 Oscars, the world may have the Awards Chatter podcast to thank. Let’s just hope the Academy doesn’t pay its hosts via loose cash in retail bags.

John Mulaney’s Rolex Story Is Even Worse Than We Thought