John Mulaney Reveals How He Named His New Netflix Special ‘John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch’

John Mulaney‘s upcoming Netflix special, John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch debuts on December 24 and is a departure from his usual standup seen on the streaming service.

Mulaney is joined by 15 young actors, some as young as eight years old up to 13, Vulture reports. In addition to Mulaney and the children, performers like David Byrne, Natasha Lyonne, André De Shields, and Jake Gyllenhaal also round out the cast. When the show recently premiered, Mulaney shared with his Instagram followers that the kids wanted something big.

John Mulaney and The Sack Lunch Bunch at the "John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch" New York Premiere
John Mulaney and The Sack Lunch Bunch at the “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch” New York Premiere |Steven Simione/WireImage

“The kids insisted on a ‘big premiere’ ‘with a red carpet’ ‘and we all get to dress up fancy.’ They got it. Then they got to meet @nickkroll. Were they more excited to see him than me? Yes!” he joked. Mulaney also shared photos with some of his adult co-stars too. Thank you @andre_deshields & @davidbyrneofficial & @annaleigh_ashford & @nickroll and sweet @birbigs for skipping the opening of CATS uptown to join us last night.” Mulaney recently addressed how he landed on naming the show The Sack Lunch Bunch.

The name is based on a book by Maurice Sendak

In a fun twist, Vulture editor, Christopher Bonanos allowed his 10-year-old son, Alexander to conduct the interview. His first question drilled down to the title of the show. “I was basing it off something I don’t know if you’ve ever read or come in contact with, ‘The Nutshell Gang,’ that series of books by Maurice Sendak,” Mulaney shared. “I became acquainted with them through the album Really Rosie, and I wanted something like that. And at Saturday Night Live, I had a sketch that was cut multiple times called ‘The Scrapyard Gang.'”

“And then I thought that might kind of jinx it because the gods of television had cut it,” he continued. “So I wanted something that had some punchy words in it and rhymed, and then I thought I was going to call it ‘The Latchkey Kids.'”

Mulaney also revealed that he was a latchkey kid, which referenced children with both parents who worked. The children were given a key to let themselves in at home after school and were often unsupervised. “I was a latchkey kid, which meant that we came home and our parents were at work and we enjoyed ourselves,” he remarked. “It was sometimes used pejoratively, like ‘these kids are sad,’ but we were not sad — we enjoyed being able to watch television in peace. ‘Sack Lunch Bunch’ kinda came from that. [Pauses] They’ll all be this long, my answers.”

Mulaney shares how he chose his cast of children too

Mulaney told Vulture he ended up auditioning at least 100 children or possibly more for the 15 slots. “We were interested in young people who had some experience but were not too polished,” he shared. “I wanted to be talking with real kids — not that a polished actor child is not a real kid, but those that were just a little green in the best sense of the word.”

“The Roundabout Theatre Company helped me because I was looking for more theater kids than kids that have done a thousand commercial auditions. We got the 100 kids down to 30? 25? And then we made the hard decisions. It was kind of like putting together an SNL cast. Like Lorne would go, ‘That guy can play a senator, he can play a father.’ Not that any of the kids could play a father. One of the proudest parts I am of this is the cast we put together. I take no credit for their talent.”