It would be painful to watch John Mulaney relive his childhood humiliations, if it weren't so hilarious. "I get a bizarre thrill from saying weirdly personal things onstage," says Mulaney, 29, who just taped his second stand-up special for Comedy Central (it'll air in January) and also writes for Saturday Night Live. "I'm so afraid of being embarrassed in real life, but when I'm doing stand-up, I so enjoy sharing embarrassing stories."
At SNL, Mulaney channels his instincts for embarrassment into his greatest creation: Stefon, the gay, drug-addled club-land correspondent played by Bill Hader, the character's co-creator. Stefon has saved many an SNL episode with his "Weekend Update" ramblings about deranged New York nightlife attractions – such as DJ Baby Bok Choy, "a giant 300-pound Chinese baby who wears tinted aviator glasses and . . . spins records with his little ravioli hands." Mulaney based Stefon, in part, on an old acquaintance. "He was always trying to start underground club nights," Mulaney says. "He was a deviant."
Mulaney and Hader typically write Stefon's dialogue together over long Chinese dinners, but Mulaney likes to slip additional last-minute gags onto the cue cards in hopes of making Hader crack up on live TV (which he usually does). "Bill's very professional, so it's funny to fuck with him," Mulaney says. "I don't think he's made it through one."
By Simon Vozick-Levinson