John Mulaney Wasn’t Allowed to Perform in His High School’s Musicals
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John Mulaney Wasn’t Allowed to Perform in His High School’s Musicals

-Hello. -Our most frequent guest —
John Mulaney. -Did I beat —
Was it Martha Stewart? -Yeah, I think you just tipped
ahead of Martha Stewart again. Back and forth. Back and forth.
[ Cheers and applause ] -The ballet continues. That’s wonderful.
That’s wonderful. -Also wonderful is this episode
of “Documentary Now” that you wrote that is
based on theater. It’s based on
a Stephen Sondheim musical. You were involved in the theater
at a very young age, or you loved it
at a very young age. -Yeah, I was not allowed
to be involved, but I loved it very, very much. I remember seeing
“Les Miserables,” which means “the miserables.” -Right.
[ Laughter ] -And it’s all in France. I was 7,
and there’s a 7-year-old actor suddenly on stage
in “Les Miserables.” This kid Gavroche comes out,
and he has a song. He goes… ♪ Good evening, dear Inspector ♪ ♪ Lovely evening, my dear ♪ And I was like,
“What — How come he gets to –” I was apoplectic. Later, my friends and I were
playing baseball in Jonquil Park in Chicago. And this kid comes up,
and you know, we don’t know him. So we’re mean to him.
[ Laughter ] And we’re talking to him. He said,
“I’m the understudy right now for the Chicago production of
‘Les Miserables.'” So I think I take this guy out and then I’m one away
from the main event. [ Laughter ]
-Yeah. -And I go, “Hey, I heard you
need an understudy.” -Did it you think that’s how
understudies work? That if you take one out,
you’re the understudy? -Look.
It would have been much cleaner. [ Laughter ] If it was just a kid playing
Gavroche with no understudy and then he was like,
“Hey, want to play baseball?” And I’m bat in hand,
but that didn’t happen. And it’s wrong to hit people,
and so I didn’t get it. But I still do Gavroche
for my wife, and she hates it, and she hates
my rendition of it. And she really doesn’t like it. And it’s — and I know
it’s not good and I know that it was funny
when we started dating and I know that
it’s not funny anymore. ‘Cause I’ll go like… ♪ Good evening, dear inspector ♪ ♪ Lovely evening, my dear,
da-na-na ♪ ♪ I know this man, my friend,
his name is Inspector Javert ♪ And Anna once went,
“Wait a minute. You just tipped
two different hats.” [ Laughter ] -That’s an interesting —
-Because one came off. -Yeah.
[ Laughter ] That play takes place at a time
where it’s not great in France. But a lot of people
had two hats. -It was miserable there.
[ Laughter ] It stunk, frankly. -They didn’t have a ton of food,
but they all had deux chapeau. -Yeah.
[ Laughter ] I bet that’s his only chapeau. Ah, Gavroche! -You were an — Did you work in
high school theater? -No, they didn’t let me.
-Really? -So, I’d come out and I’d do
my singing and they’d say no. [ Laughter ] I was like, remember that movie
“Florence Foster Jenkins” — and we hold for applause.
[ Laughter ] I was the Florence Foster
Jenkins of my high school. I thought I could sing like
Meryl Streep in the movie, and I couldn’t sing,
so I never got in anything, but I did lighting for musicals
in high school. Like, “My Fair Lady.” I’d be up in the booth. And the lighting booth
had a little attic. And you could go up there and, you know, do drugs
or whatever you want to do. [ Laughter ] It was very fun because
in “My Fair Lady,” there’s a scene where they’re
announcing everyone at a fancy ball. Do you know the show?
-Yeah. -Do you know theater?
[ Laughter ] Do you know theater?
[ Laughter ] So there’s a scene —
there’s a scene and I should have refreshed
my memory on this scene. [ Laughter ]
But it’s a fancy thing. Imagine, right?
-Yeah. -And so there’s announcements. It’s like, Lord and Lady Ashton,
then the people come out, and this wonderful actress
and classmate of mine named Roxy Leigh every night would read the names
of the people, and I was in the booth, and I would switch out the cards
every night that she had. And so one night it was, like,
“Sir Lord and Lady Ashton. Ladies and gentlemen,
Tim Allen.” [ Laughter ] So I derailed the theater. [ Laughter ] But then I kept hanging around. -This episode, again,
there are — you wrote a ton of
Sondheim-esque songs. -Yes, as did you. -I helped out a very little bit
with this episode, but I enjoyed it a great deal.
-Yes. Your additions
were instrumental. No pun intended.
Instruments. Instruments. Music. [ Laughter ] -But one of the fun things was
both of us had to do this — Neither of us can sing a lick. -Not a bit.
-Yeah. -And we had the incredible
composer for this, Eli, we would sing into our iPhones
and then send him us singing. -Yes. And what I would do
is I would take a melody that already existed
and was copywritten and then I would
add my own words, and I’d go, “How about this?” And Eli would say,
“Well, that’s already a song.” And he had to listen to me sing. So I have all these voice memos. -We actually have a voice memo
just to give people a sense of exactly how dire,
how dire this was for — Let’s take a listen.
-I’m legit embarrassed. Hello, Eli. It’s Mulaney. I’m losing my voice on tour,
so I was picturing it like this. ♪ You don’t own any land,
just a box in the sky ♪ ♪ Your neighbor’s cooking kasha
and your other neighbor died ♪ ♪ When you moved in, you felt
lucky but that time is forgot ♪ ♪ But you never give up
your spot at the co-op ♪ [ Laughter ] Wow, that is bad,
but I did get it all out. I’m proud of myself. [ Laughter ] -Great.
[ Cheers and applause ] -Fading out at the end. ♪ The co-op ♪ I can tell I’m going into,
like, a funny voice for my own defenses
at the end, like… ♪ At the co-op ♪ -Even just —
I was singing into a phone for only two other people
to listen to, you being one. -Yeah. -And I would, like,
have flop sweat. I would be in the corner
of my room, hoping other people
couldn’t hear me. -Yeah.
-I whisper singing songs. -On that one, I’m like, “I’m
sorry. I’ve been on tour.” You know, I had a week off.
[ Laughter ] But there are
constant disclaimers. There’s a lot of planes,
so it sounds like I can’t sing. What it is, is airplanes.
[ Laughter ]

About James Carlton

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100 thoughts on “John Mulaney Wasn’t Allowed to Perform in His High School’s Musicals

  1. Mulaney is hilarious – the funniest guy alive! He is ADORABLE! Seems it would be so fun to be married to him. Where did he come from????

  2. jesus man whats wrong with you you cant sing at all……
    well ya see sir there a lot of planes ……
    um….were inside a studio ….
    … ….i just meant in general ….

  3. i went to church sunday and all i could think about were is jokes. he has successfully ruined my life. but i am here for it

  4. I just saw John Mulaney on his new tour with Pete Davidson. He was hilarious and he's still my favorite comedian.

  5. I can't bare to listen to my own recorded voice alone in a house. I can't imagine listening to my recorded voice in front of a live audinece and knowing it was being broadcasted on telivision.

  6. We need to sign a petition to get John Mulaney to play Gavroche and for John to get to tip his two hats while exposing Javert. Who’s with me?

  7. The hardest thing known to man on Earth:
    Trying not to laugh in the middle of the night when everyone’s asleep while watching Seth Myers

  8. honestly some of the best interviews seth has is with other old snl cast members because they’re all friends & it just looks like they goofing off & trying to keep track of the interview

  9. I’ve been watching videos of John from years ago and when I saw this thumbnail, I wasn’t even sure if it was a new or old one at first. He looks the same

  10. He is so funny. What a wonderful man!! He is hilarious and kind too. It's easy to see! 🙏🏻🤗💕

  11. Seth Meyers interviewing John Mulaney is something we all need 😂💕💕 I love how Meyers looks at him like John’s just absolutely perfect.

  12. John, songs are copyrighted not "copywriten". I bring this up because I'm terribly jealous that you are so funny and well, you know, gorgeous……Oh, and probably because I was raised by an English teacher.

  13. Lyrics:

    You don’t own any land just a box in the sky.
    Your neighbors making kasha and your other neighbor died
    When you moved in you felt lucky, but that time is forgot
    But you never give up your spot
    At the cOaP

  14. “no one has money for food but this guy’s got two hats” that’s legit the entire characterization of one of the characters in les mis i’m losing my minnd

  15. 6:08 when you have a cut due to your choir director at midnight (to prove you practiced on your own) and you’re too lazy to go to a practice room

  16. This was posted on my bday 😅. And I'm in Drama Club.. and was in a Madagascar Musical at my school. I was the old lady and leader of the mufasa. What's funny was how on the last night I usually go to sit on a stool, but if was moved and I fell out of the seat and on to the floor. I had to play it off, but when it happened, I heard after the show, the people that with the lights and stuff were laughing when it happened to me🤣

  17. It's strange, I can always relate somehow to John's stand up sketches. Instead in this particular setting (with Seth Meyers) I notice a big difference, it's as if all his lines were much more culturally-based. Since I'm Italian, I don't understand half of his humour, which doesn't happen with his stand ups at all. Very odd ! And very interesting too.

  18. Reminds me of my sibling. Great Actor, terrible singer. Of course, the school drama department was stretched for talent and didn't want to lose him for the musical so they put on Drowsy Chaperone specifically because the lead does next to no singing throughout it all.

  19. I only have paid attention to John Mulaney because Bill Hader always mentions him. But, Mulaney is really, naturally funny.

  20. Is it possible that he’s talking about Mr. Sam Riegel? I am too lazy to research it but that’s what I’m going with.

  21. What John and Seth did for Eli is, fundamentally, how a lyricist works with a composer. Not sure if they realize that, but that's pretty much it haha!

  22. Y’know, for those critters out there, someone did the math and the kid John wanted to kill might have been Sam Reigal

  23. How does John Mulaney make a song from Les Miserables sound like the theme from Full House? Great. Now I have the theme from Full House stuck in my head.

  24. This comment section disappoints me.. there’s no comments about him being immortal

  25. This tall child no joke went to my high school and I’ve never been more mad at this hellhole for denying his his musical theater dreams

  26. Honestly the peak of taking high school theater was doing drugs in the sound room which was also kinda like an atic.

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