Comedian John Mulaney is a national treasure and his hilarious SNL sobriety story proves it
Fifth time was definitely a charm for Mulaney, whose most recent SNL monologue hit audiences in all the right places.
Back after a brief three-week hiatus, SNL returned to TV screens this weekend with John Mulaney at its helm.
His fifth time to assume hosting duties on the popular Saturday night chat show, it was understandably a big moment for the writer-turned-comedian who essentially got his start scribbling down jokes he hoped would get a laugh out of Bill Hader while on air.
Initiated into the revered Five Timers Club as a result of the milestone, Mulaney joined an elite group of others, including the likes of Steve Martin, Candice Bergen, Elliott Gould, Tina Fey and Paul Rudd – all of whom have also hosted the show at least five times (or more).
It was Mulaney’s opening monologue that really did it for viewers though. Airing at a time when the collective global feeling is one of desperation and worry, many feared that the episode would play into the typical satirical tropes the show has come to be known for. Mulaney, however, managed to steer things in the right direction from the get-go and provided some much needed comic relief all at his own expense.
Lightening the mood with a stand-up piece about his own personal struggles over the past few years, the comedian opened up about everything from divorce to fatherhood to sobriety.
“For many, many reasons I am grateful to be here tonight. After a very complicated year, it is wonderful to be in a place that has always emphasised sobriety and mental health,” he began. Cue somewhat nervous laughter from the audience. “Since I last hosted, different things have happened. In December of 2020, I went to dinner at a friend’s apartment. But it was not dinner. It was an intervention… for me. My least favourite kind of intervention,” he joked.
Then detailing what happened when he walked into the dinner, Mulaney said that he knew what was happening right away, joking, “Do you know how bad of a drug problem you have to have, if when you open a door and see people gathered your first thought is, ‘This is probably an intervention about my drug problem. There’s no other reason people would be behind a door.’”
That conversation ultimately culminated with Mulaney going to rehab for two months where he focused on getting better and also blocked/deleted the number to his drug dealer… which is quite a funny story, actually. Remembering how he sat down with his therapist to go through the contacts on his phone, Mulaney said that sometimes the process involves sending your drug dealer a text to basically say, “Hey, never get in touch with me again and I’m sober. It’s called breaking up with your drug dealer,” he explained.
“I texted Arvin [his main drug dealer] first and I said, ‘Hey, I’m deleting and blocking you. I’m sober now, I’m never gonna buy drugs again.’ And I’m really polite, so I didn’t know how to end the text, so I said, ‘But thank you, for all the nights that became days and your inspired professionalism.’
“So I send the text. Before I can delete and block him, he texts me back and goes, ‘Hey, I’m so proud of you. I’m so happy that you got sober. You know, I only bought drugs to sell to you, because I was worried about you, and I didn’t want you to get worse stuff off the streets.’”
To which Mulaney replied, “You sweet man. You only bought drugs to sell to me? Did you sell drugs to other people?!”
Turns out he did not. Arvin is a painter. How did it come to be that he sold John Mulaney drugs? Neither one is sure exactly. “There are many tales of drug dealers turning innocent people into drug addicts,” John laughed before adding, “I might be the first drug addict to turn an innocent man into a drug dealer.”
SNL subsequently shared the monologue on social media, and while everyone obviously found the story hilarious, the comments are testament to just how impressed they were with Mulaney’s strength too – especially when talking about such a deeply personal, and painful experience.
“One of the best to ever do it,” one fan noted. “Imagine someone putting such a hard topic into a primetime set for general consumption and killing it. Undeniable greatness.” Another agreed, adding that “John’s two-month rehab story is proof that comedy is tragedy plus time.”
Aside from Mulaney’s brilliant monologue – which might be one of our all-time favourites to date – the show also included a lovely tribute to the people of Ukraine with the Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York giving a sombre rendition of the Ukrainian national anthem in solidarity with the current situation across the seas. You can watch that performance below.
If you or someone you know needs treatment for addiction, there are different treatment options available depending on your needs. You can find services in your local area on Drugs.ie, Askaboutalcohol.ie or on the HSE website.