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John Mulaney and Nick Kroll go hilariously Hollywood all over Conan

John Mulaney, Nick Kroll, Conan O’Brien
Screenshot: Conan

Comedic life partners and Broadway stars Nick Kroll and John Mulaney haven’t let their collective and individual show biz successes go to their heads in their fifteen years of friendship. Or, wait, the opposite of that. At least that’s the comic conceit the pair brought to their monday appearance on Conan. There to plug their second stint hosting the Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3 on IFC, the Oh, Hello and Big Mouth stars traded in Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland’s shabby New York wardrobe for the latest in scarved, fedora-sporting, ripped-jeans-and-every-necklace Johnny Depp couture, as they spent two full segments keeping host Conan O’Brien vainly trying to find a way past their blandly self-impressed mega star personas.


The tradition of guests busting out bafflingly deadpan put-ons in order to liven up the usual press tour mundanity is a Conan tradition, and O’Brien, as ever, played the annoyed straight man with flush-faced aplomb. Still, with Kroll and Mulaney unflinchingly (well, Kroll kept nearly breaking) committed to playing the insufferably blasé hipster douchebags to the hilt, even Conan’s practiced fake irritation edged into understandable genuineness. (“You’re being such a dick right now,” he jokingly snapped at one point.) Mulaney talked up the pair’s new pop-up fashion shop, proudly boasting, “There’s no parking.” Kroll, meanwhile, extolled their thoroughly unwanted redecoration of Gerard Butler’s house, complete with a “gothic erotica” theme, and told of how his recent genetic testing adventure (he was really hoping for some super-cool Native American blood) instead returned “100 percent Ashkenazi Jew.” (Which he claims translates as “Polish Jew from the mud.”)


Kroll and Mulaney have proven themselves lucratively expert at semi-improvisationally spinning out increasingly, hilariously ludicrous details from the supposed lives of their self-created characters. Here, we find out that Kroll crochets sweaters for motorcycles, Mulaney’s late daughter is named after the equally short-lived network Seeso (“We thought both would last longer”), and that they’re both in a rehab (they still vape) based on the spiritual teachings of Jose Canseco. Never letting go of the bit, even when Conan claimed “I’m gonna hit you soon,” Mulaney summed up the new outlook the duo is bringing to their March 3 hosting gig as, “Public denial is key. Private denial is encouraged.”

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Dennis Perkins

Contributor, The A.V. Club. Danny Peary's Cult Movies books are mostly to blame.