Alumni Spotlight: John Mulaney


Among notable UD alumni is the sensational and iconic comedian, actor, writer and producer, John Mulaney.

The Chicago native who graduated from UD in 2004 with a B.A. in English and a concentration in theology said that attending UD was “the worst financial decision of [his] life” and questioned the persistence of letters he received from the university asking for money.

“I gave you more than the civil war costs, and you spent it already?” Mulaney said.

Despite this, he described his time at UD fondly and said, “I was 18 years old and I looked like I was 11. I lived like a Ninja Turtle. I didn’t drink water the entire time. College was like a 4 year game show called ‘Do My Friends Hate Me, or Do I Just Need to Go to Sleep?’ but instead of winning money, you lose $120,000.”

At UD, he met fellow comedian and UD alum Nick Kroll who participated in the campus improv group. 

When Mulaney moved to New York City after graduation, he went on to write for “Saturday Night Live” and “Comedy Central” and built his career as a stand-up comedian by going on several tours, including a recent one with a stop in Dallas where his alma mater resides. 

Mulaney has produced several stand-up specials such as “The Top Part,” “New In Town,” “The Comeback Kid,” and “Kid Gorgeous,” winning a Primetime Emmy Award for Kid Gorgeous. He then partnered with Netflix to produce “John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch” in 2019.

During his experience at UD, he enjoyed the Core classes including those that he took for his English degree.

“I paid $120,000 for someone to tell me to go read Jane Austen, and then I didn’t,” Mulaney said.

Mulaney, who grew up Catholic and does not resent any part of his childhood, was an altar boy and continued to serve at the UD campus during Mass and adoration. He equated it to “the guy that [holds] the umbrella for Puff Daddy.” He describes going to Mass on campus as “dads’ singing way too loud trying to get their kids to sing.”

Mulaney’s favorite memory of growing up Catholic was receiving the sacrament of confirmation where he took the name Martin since he was a fan of Dean Martin, and it was also the middle name of his brother who passed away.

He commented, “Confirmations are nice, but I’d rather do the electric slide at Bar Mitzvah’s.”

Though the past year was rough for Mulaney as he went through a divorce and two trips to a rehabilitation center, it also brought new gifts and healing including the birth of his son, Malcolm Mulaney, and his new path of sobriety.

This experience caused Mulaney to reflect on his understanding of fame and love and said, “Fame is not love. They’re not the same thing, and I’ve done a lot of work to get to that conclusion. And I hope Rudolph [the Red-Nosed Reindeer] sees a therapist.”


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