AS Program Board Presents: John Mulaney Live Q&A

Illustration by Alyssa Long

Drew Buchanan

Staff Writer

It’s winter! And you know what that means? Seasonal depression. We may all be super stressed and absolutely fed up with quarantine right now, but hey! At least we can still laugh away the pain, right? 

On Nov. 19, the UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Associated Students (AS) Program Board coordinated a Q&A with stand-up comedian and well-loved funny-man, John Mulaney. If you had the pleasure of being in attendance, you would know that this virtual event was a delight!

AS Program Board’s Cultural Events Coordinator Gabriel Reyes introduced and facilitated the event, seamlessly presenting student-submitted questions to Mulaney in a conversational format. The event began with a lively discussion about the existence of ghosts. Gabriel and Mulaney discussed the phenomenon of childhood ghost sightings as the chat angrily demanded to see John’s beloved French bulldog, Petunia. 

Despite the outrage in the chat, Petunia never made an appearance during the Zoom call. Mulaney defended himself claiming that she was asleep and that no person should dare wake a sleeping Petunia. The ghost discussion concluded with a rather chilling description of sleep paralysis and we were on to the boring questions!

After briefly talking about what brought him to where he is now, John answered a question about his dream job as a child. “This was,” he quickly answered. Perhaps not the grand answer we were all hoping for, Mulaney assured the host and audience that he had indeed accomplished his childhood goal of becoming a stand-up comedian and could not be happier with his experiences in show business so far.

The conversation then took a surprising and unexpected turn, as Mulaney disclosed a never-before-heard personal story to the UCSB student body. Following a brief yet humorous miscommunication:

G: “Did you work any weird jobs when you were younger that you have some crazy, memorable stories from?”

M: “Yeah, can we swear on this?”

G: “Like Pinky Swear?”

M: “No …”

Mulaney launched into a brief but asinine story from his days working in the soybean stock exchange. On one of the busiest days working on the floor as a stock runner, Mulaney was rushing back and forth in a chaotic soybean-focused environment and suddenly had to go to the bathroom. He asked his boss, “Sorry, can I please go to the bathroom?” 

The broker lifted him up by his jacket and commanded, “You shit quick!” before dropping Mulaney to the floor. John recounted that he most likely did not take the opportunity to use the restroom after that somewhat scarring experience and has not discussed it publicly since.

Arguably, the most enjoyable part of the event was Mulaney’s response to the question: “What fictional universe would you like to be stuck in?” After a significant pause, Mulaney confidently answered, “The Giving Tree” shortly followed by a run-through of his proposed role as “the guy who occasionally walks past and questions what’s going on.” 

He pitched some new lines focused on empowering the tree such as, “Listen, your happiness cannot be in destroying yourself,” and “Generosity is important, tree, but you have to stand up for yourself occasionally.” Gabriel and the chat were calling for an official rewrite of the book but alas, copyright exists.

This Q&A with John Mulaney was a fairly successful attempt on the behalf of the AS Program Board to challenge the monotonous and everlasting feeling that many are wallowing in during this pandemic. Although some are left bitter about not having their questions answered, this event was genuinely enjoyable and just what the students of UCSB needed.

Some final words from John for every student out there: “Drop out or don’t.”

Thanks to this well-timed event thoughtfully coordinated by the AS Program Board, UCSB students were able to take a night, unwind, and enjoy a little comedy with one of our generation’s most beloved comedians.