John Mulaney sat down this week for a podcast interview with Marc Maron, and in addition to talking at length about his alcoholic past (he’s nine years sober and only 32), his past drug use (a little cocaine), his addiction to cigarettes (Mulaney? Really?) and some of his favorite guests on Saturday Night Live (Paul McCartney, Danny Devito), Mulaney also talked about his sitcom and NOT taking over for Seth Meyers on SNL’s “Weekend Update” desk.
As to his sitcom Mulaney, he was upfront about it. He said that he knew it was in trouble, but that he honestly didn’t know if it would be canceled or not. He seems to be coping with the possibility well (although, Maron suggested he was in denial) and did joke that if Lorne Michaels asked him to come back to SNL, he’d be “in no position to turn down work.”
But the most interesting part of the interview, at least to me, was Mulaney’s discussion with Maron about not taking over for Meyers after he left to do Late Night. Maron suggested that, before he went to do Mulaney, the buzz was that he was the heir apparent to Meyers.
“There are no heirs apparent in show business,” Mulaney said.
“But that was the word on the street. Was that not the word that you got?”
“Uh, I did some ‘Update’ features. I entertained the idea that I might get it. But the word on the street versus what you hear at a place like that is different.”
“But what was Lorne Michaels’ saying … ?”
“I knew I was doing very well on the show … but I honestly did not know where I stood in terms of that.”
“Did you want to do ‘Update’?”
“Sure! Of course.”
“And was it ever offered to you.”
“It was never offered, as in, ‘Do you want to do it right now … I think it was maybe a possibility. But then I did a stand-up special … and the special got a nice reception, and I think I thought, maybe I’ll move on.”
It’s hard to parse that, exactly, although it sounds like it was a matter of timing. As in, Lorne Michaels didn’t want to make the decision right up until he had to, and since he hadn’t offered it to Mulaney officially, Mulaney decided to bolt and do his own show rather than stick around for the “possibility” that he might get the “Update’ desk.
But he would’ve, right? I mean, I feel like Colin Jost was the default because Mulaney had left, but maybe Lorne was grooming Jost the entire time, and maybe that’s why Mulaney ultimately left, because he was concerned that Jost would get it instead of him? And he didn’t want to pass up another opportunity?
It’s interesting to consider, but then again, Colin Jost seems to finally be finding his footing on “Update” and turned in his best performance so far this past weekend.