John Mulaney’s SNL joke comparing American politics to Julius Caesar didn’t make the Secret Service laugh
Usually we love the things John Mulaney does. The stand-up comedian has a bunch of Netflix specials that, as someone who was raised Catholic, I find particularly hilarious. When he isn’t ribbing the church, he’s schooling us all on friendship, teaching us what words are slurs and what ones aren’t (looking at you, “Karen”), and making appearances on Sesame Street shows, because why not? But like so many stand-up comedians, he can sometimes push the boundaries a little too far, and during this year’s election season, he did so on SNL.
During an interview with Jimmy Kimmel this week, Mulaney talked about hosting the Feb. 29 episode of SNL, and how one topical gag got him in a little bit of trouble with the President’s protection detail.
The show was taking place on Leap Day, which Mulaney decided to highlight in his monologue. “Leap Year began in the year 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar,” he said. “This is true. He started the leap year in order to correct the calendar and we still do it to this day.”
Then, Mulaney continued, “Another thing that happened under Julius Caesar was, uh, he was such a powerful maniac that all the senators grabbed knives and stabbed him to death.”
OK, technically true. But, uh, we can see where this is going.
“That’d be an interesting thing, if we brought that back now,” Mulaney continued. He quickly added, “I asked my lawyer if I could make that joke and he said, ‘Let me call another lawyer,’ and that lawyer said yes.”
As he explained to Kimmel, the Secret Service had some questions for Mulaney after the episode aired.
“They investigated me, and I guess they opened a file on me because of the joke,” he said. “Am I stoked there’s a file on me? Absolutely. Did I enjoy it in the moment? Not so much.”
Apparently, the Secret Service asked Mulaney if he was alluding to the president with that joke, and if he had ever written any “rants” or “manifestos.”
“I have bad writing habits, I could never pound out a manifesto,” he replied.
Everything turned out OK, because Mulaney said he was able to convince the security detail that his joke was just a joke, and the investigation was wrapped up quickly. But maybe this could be a lesson: If you have to consult a lawyer before telling a joke, it might be better just to come up with a different, more appropriate joke.
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