30 John Mulaney Quotes: A Stand-Up Comedian’s Finest

Recently, I found myself looking for a new comedy special to watch and scrolling for an embarrassingly long time without settling on a title. I didn’t know what I was looking for until I saw it — John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch! In addition to giving me new material to laugh at, the comedian’s most recent special also reminded me of the many John Mulaney quotes and gags I adored.

Mulaney’s 2019 children’s musical comedy special was exactly the kind of weird fun I was after. However, as much as the show was clearly a product of John’s unique brand of comedy, he didn’t give himself very many lines in it. Instead, the show was clearly designed to highlight the brilliance of his marvelous young cast and guest stars!

Seeing Mulaney play a character reminiscent of Mister Rogers interspersed with sketches and interviews was enough to make me want to revisit some of his old material. So if you’re looking for a good giggle, keep reading!

John Mulaney Quotes That Take You Through an Entire Lifetime

#1. “But when you’re a little kid, you can’t say, ‘I don’t know,’ you should be able to. That should be an acceptable answer on a test. You should be able to write in, ‘I don’t know. I know you told me. But I have had a very long day. I am very small. And I have no money. So you can imagine the kind of stress that I am under.’ Or if it’s one of those true or false questions, you should be able to add a third option, which is, ‘who’s to say?’”

#2. “You remember being twelve when you’re like, ‘No one looks at me, or I’ll kill myself.’”

#3. “I wish I could go tell 12-year-old me like: ‘I don’t worry that you just fainted in front of all the girls; one day, you’ll be able to make this into an episode of TV.’”

#4. “As I got into high school and after puberty, I was a little more inward. I was a real extrovert when I was little, but I don’t know, I just got quieter… With my friends, I was still an extrovert.”

#5. “I look back on being seventeen and think, ‘Oh my God, how did I not die?’”

#6. “College was like a four-year game show called, ‘Do My Friends Hate Me or Do I Just Need To Go To Sleep?’”

#7. “I can’t listen to any new songs. Because every new song is about how tonight is the night, and we only have tonight. That is such 19-year-old horseshit. I want to write songs for people in their thirties called ‘Tonight’s No Good. How About Wednesday? Oh, you’re in Dallas Wednesday? Let’s Not See Each Other for Eight Months, and It Doesn’t Matter at All.’”

John Mulaney Quotes About His Image and Personality

#8. “It’s been very funny to try to act like an adult. Even getting dressed. Every day, I’m like, ‘Should I wear a blazer and walk around with an umbrella? Do I carry a briefcase?’ Because I’m trying to be some image of the adults I saw on TV growing up.”

#9. “I don’t look older; I just look worse.”

#10. “My vibe is like, ‘hey, you could probably pour soup in my lap, and I’ll apologize to you.’”

#11. “I’m a very straightforward person. But that’s fine for a comedian. Because, a lot of times, you’re talking about everyone else.”

#12. “My stand-up persona is like I’ll heighten things, but I’m observing the world as it is in sort of a heightened emotional state.”

#13. “People having expectations maybe means they’ve enjoyed what I’ve done.”

#14. “I like making fun of myself a lot. I like being made fun of too. I’ve always enjoyed it. There’s just something really, really funny about someone tearing into me.”

John Mulaney Quotes About Crafting Jokes for Sketches and Stand-Up

#15 “I just watched a ton of comedy and saw a ton of different styles, and eventually, you think, ‘Oh, yeah, I could be like that.’”

#16 “I remember writing stand-up jokes without having done sets. But as soon as I did my first set, it didn’t matter. Everything I thought would work didn’t work. And everything I was iffy on was funny.”

#17 “I do longer runs on things, a lot of stories. I really like one-liners; I like a lot of different kinds of stand-up, but I’ve always been long-winded.”

#18 “Stand-up for me is just my opinions on things, so it wouldn’t be as fun translated into a sketch. Nor would a sketch be as fun if it were me standing there saying it.”

#19 “There are a lot of great jokes you can sit down and write, but that’s just a written joke versus the comedy of the situation. Ideally, you’re pulling as much comedy out of the situation as you can.”

#20 “I’ve always believed that you often need less. You don’t need to hear why people are friends; you don’t need to hear why people are roommates; you don’t need to hear why someone would help a friend to do something.”

#21 “Things have to be funny first, and if they want to have a point, that’s awesome.”

John Mulaney Quotes on Dipping His Toes Into Political Comedy

#22. “I love comedians that dive into politics. I personally don’t feel comfortable, with my background, weighing in unless I have a take that I think is funny enough that I would put it in front of an audience.”

#23. “It’s important to remember that life is a joke and that outlook grants a lot of perspective, but I don’t think comedy should change and become political due to other things. It should just laugh at that cosmic joke that life is all the time.”

#24. “If something is very, very funny but possibly controversial, if it’s truly funny, then it’s worth doing. Things aren’t worth doing for the sake of being controversial.”

#25. “You can’t always see both sides of the story. Eventually, you have to pick a side and stick with it. No more equivocating. You have to commit.”

Best of John Mulaney: Jokes That Made Us Snort With Laughter

#26. “It is 100% easier not to do things than to do them, and so much fun not to do them — especially when you were supposed to do them. In terms of instant relief, canceling plans is like heroin.”

#27. “I’m one of the worst drivers I’ve ever seen. And I just want you all to know that, if you’re ever on the highway behind me, I hear you honking. And I also don’t want me to be doing what I’m doing. I don’t like that I’m in that lane either. And I sure would like to get out of it.”

#28. “I was coming into my apartment building one night, and I saw, in front of my building, a wheelchair knocked over on its side. With no one in it. That’s a bad thing to see. Something happened there. You hope it was a miracle, but probably not. Probably something worse.”

#29. “Why do people do that? People always shush animals. They go, ‘hey, shh shh shh shh.’ They’ve never spoken.”

#30. “I’ll keep all my emotions right here. And then, one day, I’ll die.”

To Conclude

After all of this, I think I have a theory that might explain why John, who is nearing the ripe old age of 40, still has the face of a child. Most of his post-SNL comedic career has been centered on reflections of childhood innocence. Even this last project we’ve seen was created to highlight children’s creativity, curiosity, and fears.

As you have now seen, John Mulaney quotes often contain references to growing up, as well as growing old. Perhaps that quirky brand of comedy is precisely what keeps Mulaney looking so young. Fortunately, he’s practically bottling and selling that stuff in each new comedy special he puts out. And I, for one, can’t wait to see more!

image credit: flickr.com