John Mulaney Said He Won His First Emmy With Seth Meyers Due to a Misunderstanding

Comedian and actor John Mulaney has been nominated for dozens of awards, including Peabody Awards, Emmy Awards, Producers Guild Awards, and many more. The process of voting in Hollywood’s various award shows can be arduously complex. In a recent interview, Mulaney reveals that 50 percent of the Emmy awards that he has won are due to Emmy voters not understanding what they were doing. It all has to do with Saturday Night Live and one famous guest host for the show.

(L-R) Seth Meyers and John Mulaney smiling in front of a black background
(L-R) Seth Meyers and John Mulaney | D Dipasupil/Getty Images

Mulaney started on ‘Saturday Night Live’ in 2008

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Mulaney has starred in numerous films and TV shows, and has also spearheaded his own stand-up comedy sets and Netflix series. But most people know Mulaney from his work on Saturday Night Live. “After making his Comedy Central Records debut in 2009 with The Top Part, he built his reputation as a television writer, including writing for Saturday Night Live for four seasons beginning that same year,” explains AllMusic. “He topped the Billboard comedy chart in 2012 with the standup album New in Town before starring in his own sitcom, Mulaney (2014-2015). In 2018, he returned to SNL, but as host.”

“The man clearly knows his way around comedy,” reports Cinema Blend, noting Mulaney’s most recent career switch to working with fellow Saturday Night Live alum Seth Meyers as a writer on Meyers’ late-night show. “John Mulaney is a national treasure, and we need to both protect him at all costs and support his work with Seth Meyers, if for no other reason than the hope that he’ll continue to bring oddities like that sketch onto late-night TV.”

Mulaney worked with Justin Timberlake on ‘Saturday Night Live’

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In the mid-2000s, Timberlake was at the peak of his career and making the rounds to promote his then-new album FutureSex/LoveSounds (which included hits like “SexyBack” and “LoveStoned”). One of his promotional stops was at Saturday Night Live as a guest host. Timberlake’s stint at Saturday Night Live went viral. For example, it spawned the viral hit “D*** in a Box,” which Billboard declared one of the “most iconic musical moments in the show’s history.”

Timberlake’s monologue was also well received. It featured him making tongue-in-cheek references to common music video tropes. “Justin Timberlake did not disappoint as host of the season finale of ‘Saturday Night Live’ this weekend,” reported the Huffington Post at the time. “Timberlake’s monologue was all him. […] Even if you didn’t love the monologue as a comedic piece, you must admit the song itself is really catchy.” The musical monologue was so catchy that it won Timberlake, Mulaney, and Meyers an Emmy award. 

Mulaney says his Emmy for Timberlake’s monologue was a mistake

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In a YouTube video with Wired, Mulaney recently revealed that he thinks the Emmy award he got for his work on Saturday Night Live was an accident because of the name that he gave the monologue. “[I’ve] won two Emmys,” Mulaney explains. “That’s right. However, the first Emmy I received was a trick. Seth Meyers and I called the song that we wrote for Justin Timberlake’s monologue ‘Justin Timberlake’s Song’ just as a shorthand.”

Mulaney thinks that confused the Television Academy’s voters who are responsible for choosing the winner. “When the Emmy voters were voting for it, they thought that it was ‘D*** in a Box’ or ‘Motherlover,'” says Mulaney, referring to the other musical numbers that Timberlake did while hosting Saturday Night Live. “So we actually got their votes, and we were fine with it. We took the award.”