Before John Mulaney made a career for himself as a comedian, he was a temp at Comedy Central and had the awkward task of interrupting an important meeting to tell network executives that its biggest star at the time, Dave Chappelle, “is gone.”
While promoting his new Netflix special “John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch” on Sirius XM’s “Netflix Is a Joke,” Mulaney said that part of his job description as a temp at CC at the time involved manning the phones. He was put to the test when the call came in that Chappelle had abandoned production on “The Chappelle Show” and ran off to Africa.
“They were like, ‘You have to interrupt the meeting and tell them,'” Mulaney remembered. “I was like, ‘OK!’ I went in and was like, ‘So … Dave Chappelle’s gone.'”
After some convincing that Chappelle was really gone and not simply late, executives turned their focus to securing whatever footage had already been shot for the show’s third season.
“They were going to put me on a plane that day and send me to L.A. to get the physical tapes — so they couldn’t be destroyed — and fly back to New York with them,” Mulaney said. “And that was interesting, but it felt like a hindrance to being a comedian.”
So Mulaney quit that job, moving on — not decamping to another hemisphere, but freelancing as a copywriter while pursuing a career as a stand-up.
“John Mulaney and the Sack Lunch Bunch” is currently streaming on Netflix.