Why John Mulaney referenced Marblehead in his ‘SNL’ monologue

In his fourth stint hosting “Saturday Night Live,” comedian and former “SNL” writer John Mulaney was his usual funny, charming self during the opening monologue, riffing on the coronavirus, the upcoming election, and other random diversions like middle school sleepovers.

One tangent in particular led to Mulaney telling a story about why he didn’t think his 94-year-old grandmother should be able to vote.

“I don’t think, maybe, she should vote,” Mulaney said. “You don’t get to vote when you’re 94 years old. You don’t get to order for the table when you’re about to leave the restaurant.”

“I’m sorry, that joke is ageist. That is wrong. It is wrong to say one age group is better than another,” Mulaney continued. “That would be like calling yourself the greatest generation.”

After a little more riffing, Mulaney told a story about his beloved nana, Carolyn Stanton, to prove his point. According to Mulaney, Stanton decided at the age of 88 that her drivers license photo was unflattering and that she wanted a new one.

“She was going to go to the Marblehead, Massachusetts DMV and tell them that she lost her license,” Mulaney said. “So she went to the Marblehead, Mass. DMV and she said, ‘I lost my license, and I need a new license and a new photo.’ And the guy there said, ‘Do you have any proof of ID?’ And she took out her license.”

As it turns out, Mulaney’s North Shore roots run deep. Along with his grandmother, he has several aunts and uncles who live in the area, and his mother graduated from Marblehead High, according to the Marblehead Reporter. Going back even further, his great-grandfather, Frank Bates, was a mayor of Salem and a congressman.

When Mulaney wrote on “SNL,” he mostly worked on “Weekend Update” jokes for Seth Meyers, who also has ties to Marblehead.

According to the Marblehead Reporter, Mulaney’s mother and Meyers’ mother went to Marblehead High at the same time, and Meyers spent his summers working at his step-grandfather’s liquor store in Marblehead growing up.

In his interview with the Reporter, Mulaney said that his grandmother’s reaction to seeing him on “SNL” for the first time was, “Why did he wear that suit?” If Mulaney’s monologue is to be believed, Stanton has a similar attitude toward her grandson today, as he told a story about leading Stanton to her car after a family gathering.

“We get to the car door, and she opens it, and she looks at me,” Mulaney said. “And she says, ‘You know, I used to be Carolyn Stanton. But now everyone says I’m John Mulaney’s grandmother. Well, I want you to know if I wasn’t your grandmother, I wouldn’t know who you are. Sorry!’ And then she drove off.”

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