Nationally acclaimed comedians Nick Kroll (COL ’01) and John Mulaney (COL ’04) spoke in Gaston Hall on Tuesday morning about their experiences as part of Georgetown’s comedy scene, their advice for aspiring comedians and their most memorable stories about vomiting at Georgetown.
“I was leaving [Lauinger] and I was on my way to ‘Euro Civ’, and I threw up in those hedges right near the stairs. I didn’t just email my professor and say ‘I’m feeling sick, I can’t make it to class.’ I emailed her and said, ‘You will never believe what happened,’” Mulaney said, noting that he had the flu at the time.
Kroll’s most noteworthy vomit-related story took place during his freshman year, the morning after he had fallen down the stairs in New South and hit his head.
“I wake up the next morning with a huge bruise on the back of my head and I can’t stand up and then my friend comes in and she’s like, ‘We have a Spanish test.’ And I’m like, ‘I can’t go.’ And then my mom calls and is like, ‘We’re here!’” Kroll recalled.
Kroll said that his friend took him to the Leavey Center to get juice when he began to feel sick.
“I run to look for the bathroom, and I run to the bathroom and puke all over the door to the women’s bathroom,” Kroll said.
Georgetown University Student Association President Joe Luther (COL ’16) and Vice President Connor Rohan (COL ’16), who are both members of the Georgetown Improv Association, introduced Mulaney and Kroll at the start of the event, which was sponsored by the Lecture Fund and moderated by associate board member Olivia Hinerfeld (SFS ’17).
“Over the past decade, Nick Kroll and John Mulaney have boarded a rocket ship to stardom. They are now two of the most recognizable names in comedy. They have truly set the world on fire,” Rohan said. “But not in the way that the Jesuits had hoped.”
Gaston Hall’s main seating area was nearly full with students, with no one sitting in the balcony. Kroll and Mulaney gestured to the empty balcony as they stepped on stage.
Kroll and Mulaney came to Gaston Hall while they were in D.C. to perform their two-man show “Oh, Hello,” which ran in Warner Theater on Sunday, Monday and Wednesday.Kroll and Mulaney play quirky old New Yorkers named Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland who, among other things, are known for pranking people by giving them sandwiches with “too much tuna.”
Kroll and Mulaney performed the off-Broadway show in New York City in December and have since been touring the country.
The pair said that they have been working on the characters for a decade and were initially met with rejection.
“We were doing those guys 10 years ago and we were trying desperately to get into the Aspen Comedy Festival and they wouldn’t accept the show. They thought it was too old,” Kroll said. “It was pretty decimating to not get in. … But the other side of it was that we believed that this was funny and we needed to keep doing it.”
Kroll, the star of “The League” and “Kroll Show,” and Mulaney, a former “Saturday Night Live” writer known for his standup and his short-lived eponymous sitcom “Mulaney,” met while at Georgetown in 2001. Kroll, who was a senior at the time, said that he was immediately impressed by Mulaney’s audition for the Georgetown Improv Association.
“John was fantastic. As usual, good first impression and downhill after that,” Kroll quipped. “We cast him in the group and within a few weeks I was like, ‘This is the funniest person I’ve ever met.’”
“And I thought Nick was nice,” Mulaney added.
Mulaney said that it wasn’t until he saw the success of fellow alumni Kroll and comedian Mike Birbiglia (COL ’00), known for his standup and for his film “Sleepwalk with Me,” that he realized that a career in comedy was viable.
“Watching Nick and Birbiglia do comedy and get some sort of wage for it, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s a real thing that can happen,’” Mulaney said.
Kroll encouraged students to not be scared off by the pre-professional tone set at Georgetown and to consider all their options.
“The time after college is a time to take some risks and do whatever it is that’s in your heart. The main philosophy that I took upon graduating was that I was more scared of regret than rejection,” Kroll said. “That was a huge thing for me. Like, whether I make it in comedy or not, I feel like I tried to do it. I didn’t want to look back and feel like I didn’t try.”
Kroll told aspiring comedians that they should fully commit to comedy if they hope to be successful.
“If you have a backup plan, instead of comedy … go do it. If you can’t commit entirely to the thing you want to do, then you’re not going to follow through,” Kroll said.
Much of what Kroll and Mulaney said during the event was met with laughter and applause. Some attendees said that they enjoyed both the comedic aspect of the discussion and the advice that Kroll and Mulaney offered.
Robert Kem (COL ’18) praised Mulaney and Kroll, noting their fondness for one another and their advice to individuals who aspire for careers in comedy.
“They were exciting speakers and I definitely appreciated their dedication to one another and their emphasis on perseverance when it comes to breaking into comedy,” Kem said.
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