Comedian John Mulaney’s semi-autobiographical sitcom “Mulaney,” about a stand-up comic trying to make it in New York while interacting with his wacky friends, premiered on FOX October 5. The show co-stars Nasim Pedrad, Martin Short, Zack Pearlman, and Elliott Gould. Mulaney was previously a staff writer for five seasons on “Saturday Night Live.” To get a sense of his comedic sensibility, let’s take a look at the best sketches he contributed during his “SNL” tenure:
1. Stefon (co-written with Bill Hader)
Mulaney’s crowning “SNL” achievement was Weekend Update’s city correspondent, which he created along with Stefon portrayer Bill Hader. Stefon was based on two people: an acquaintance of Mulaney’s who was trying to start an NYC club that “had everything” and a barista that Hader knew who had the same fey look and mannerisms of Stefon. Hader was notorious for breaking during these segments, which was mainly due to Mulaney changing the cue cards at the last minute with lines that Hader was unfamiliar with.
2. Family Flix (co-written with Marika Sawyer and Simon Rich)
Kristen Wiig had a reputation for wild characters, but she was just as skilled at playing the straight man, which she did here with aplomb as the host of a talk show interviewing Percy T. Douglas (Tracy Morgan), the director of the new family film “Rocket Dog.” The interview gradually revealed Douglas as the perpetrator of a multitude of crimes both legal and cinematic. This sketch inspired the timeless catchphrase, “Houston, we have a dog!”
3. The Obama Show (co-written with Seth Meyers)
The Obama family has often been compared to the Huxtable family of “The Cosby Show,” so Mulaney and Seth Meyers ran with that idea by crafting the conceit of Michelle Obama taking her anti-obesity campaign to primetime television with a sitcom starring her family. Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph dancing in the opening credits as the Obamas as the Cosbys is one of the most delightful sights “SNL” has ever presented.
4. What’s That Name (co-written with Marika Sawyer and Simon Rich)
This game show parody starts out as a simple celebrity identification quiz, but it soon turns into an ambush when the contestants have to identify the names of people from their own lives. While Justin Timberlake struggles to remember past lovers and bandmates, Lady GaGa proves to be a savant at recognizing everyone she has ever met.
5. Herb Welch
Bill Hader portrayed WXPD New York’s resident on-the-edge-of-death reporter, Herb Welch, five times between 2010 and 2012. Welch had a knack for slapping his interview subjects with his microphone, mumbling bizarre racist and sexist slurs such as “hat check girl,” and faking his demise only to spring back to life at the last minute.