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BWW Blog: An Open Letter to John Mulaney, the Source of My Serotonin Amidst a Global Pandemic

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Oh Hello! He is a Broadway Star!

BWW Blog: An Open Letter to John Mulaney, the Source of My Serotonin Amidst a Global Pandemic
Mulaney and Me, Best Buds 2020

Mr. John Mulaney,

One of the only privileges of living in New Jersey is that I've always been a mere hour away from the city. New York City was always my happy place, the magical place I'd retreat to when I was little and having a bad day. I would think about how close my favorite place actually was and how my dreams of living in the Big Apple one day weren't entirely farfetched. I could rely on the street rats and bustling crowds. I could depend on the lights of Broadway shining each night. I knew it was always there, waiting for me.

That's why the Broadway shut down during this pandemic feels so personal: it strips me of a normalcy I've always counted on. It changes the entire game. I never realized how much joy and comfort the sheer existence of theatre granted me everyday until I no longer received emails alerting me of ticket discounts and the folks in the BroadwayWorld message boards were running out of things to say.

Not to mention that I transferred into Fordham Theatre during this quarantine period. While I still studied in the city as solely an English major, I haven't had the same theatrical experience my peers had studying theatre pre-COVID. Sometimes I can't help feeling like an artificial member of sorts of the theatre community or generally more lackluster in terms of what I have to offer. Yeah, I applied and got accepted fairly. Yes, I have my portfolio which I continue adding writing projects to, and I've been able to find some pretty cool, theatrical zoom experiences to make me seem like I kind, maybe know what I'm doing. But I've also been diagnosed with multiple anxiety disorders and was voted "Most Insecure" once at a sleepover in seventh grade, so I think it's obvious I'm going to be freaking out. I've felt so lost in the world and in my own head lately. It's been a bleak time.

And before you or any other potential readers think "where is this going?" or "is this clickbait?," this is the part where you come in!

When I first told my dad that I wanted to be a writer, one of the first things he mentioned was a fun fact: that you, Mulaney, were a writer on SNL and a Georgetown alum. He's a cynical NYC lawyer and graduate of Georgetown, so the connection made sense. From that point on, I began the quest that would get me to this exact point in time. I binge-watched hundreds of SNL skits and studied the production process. My only real connection to the show initially was when I was six years old and walked in on my parents watching Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg perform "Dick in a Box." You know it never left my head and was one of the first things I searched up when I figured out what YouTube was. If you were curious, my elementary school teacher was alarmed.

I sank down the SNL rabbit hole. I searched for the works of other castmates and writers. I've camped out for tickets and have failed each time. I turned my friend into a big Bill Hader fan before Hader made TikTok fame. Last year, I spent my entire Christmas watching and rewatching "Sack Lunch Bunch." I even wrote a college application essay about "Kid Gorgeous." I told my dad that if I got accepted, I would go into standup, which is probably why that university with a bulldog mascot did not accept me! The gods had spoken, but I still joined the comedy club at school and started practicing some standup bits for a few projects. When I broke the news to my dad at dinner once, he choked on his Philly cheesesteak, "For the love of God, please don't go into standup and not make money." Even after I explained it was just for fun, he shook his head and pleaded, "Don't do it. I don't want to live in a box on the street and die."

When quarantine started and I left campus for Zoom University, I found myself rewatching the Radio City specials and imagining myself there. Imagining myself at Rockefeller Center. Imagining myself in the blistering cold camping outside Rockefeller Center unsuccessfully. The style of humor, the locations, it's all just so New York which makes it so homey and healing. It reminds me that New York isn't dead, live entertainment isn't dead, and I'm coming back real soon. There's reasons to get out of bed in the morning and hold onto hope after all.

BWW Blog: An Open Letter to John Mulaney, the Source of My Serotonin Amidst a Global PandemicAnd then, for once, the universe was on my side. I originally planned to celebrate my birthday by nursing a bottle of sparkling apple cider and rewatching my favorite movie, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (also very New York) while crying. But instead, after absentmindedly scrolling through people's Instagram stories, I saw you were on tour, for some reason, despite a pandemic! And without a single thought in my head, I found a show at a random horse racing track I've never been to, ordered a table of four and begged my older brother and friends to come with me.

Who knew a random Italian(?) restaurant in the middle of a park and next to a horse racing track could be so magical? We never had to leave our table. The seats were way better than expected. Everything was clean and everyone was socially distanced. My table ordered hot chocolates and an absurd amount of deserts in fear of not meeting the restaurant tab minimum. It felt like one of those last summer nights with a cool breeze. I wore a vintage blazer with shoulder pads to look artsy yet classy. At first, I was really anxious waiting to be seated. I kept pacing and asking questions I already knew the answers to, but when my party was seated, a wave of euphoria washed over me. I was giddy, literally jumping up and down in my seat, just in pure shock that I was finally seeing a live show during a global pandemic. A show featuring John Mulaney! That's not on Netflix!

BWW Blog: An Open Letter to John Mulaney, the Source of My Serotonin Amidst a Global PandemicHonestly, it was the happiest I've been in months. I didn't know my smile could grow so large and consume my entire face. It was so funny, so relatable, so relevant to my Intro to Politics class I'm taking this semester. My favorite of the night was the bit about therapy sessions during the pandemic. When I drove back home, I was surprised that I wasn't back to my crippling stressed and sad 2020 state of mind or agonizing over my 8:30am class I had the next day. I was genuinely, thoroughly happy, like something inside of me finally understood that the future isn't all bad. I mean, I never expected to see a show of yours, especially since I'd never seen one in NYC. But here I was, making impulsive decisions and beating the odds.

This is long and border lining on autobiographical, but I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for making me laugh during a time where it's admittedly hard to smile. Thank you for reminding me why I'm doing all of this stuff. Attending a college in NYC, studying English/Theatre, disappointing my parents. Words hold power at all times, and they are never going away. Words can transport you anywhere or could simply make you feel something. That's what you do, and that's what I want to do. Thank you for continuing to inspire me. And to anyone else reading this, I know it's hard, but keep doing what you're doing. It's going to be okay! There are always things to laugh about.

For the record, I don't actually think I'm that funny, but I hope I got you to at least smile. If not, well, this is an online letter, so it's not like I can hear any reaction or lack of one!

Thank you so much for your time,

Isabella


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From This Author Student Blogger: Isabella Gonzalez