Sammy Nickalls
February 15, 2015 6:38 am

Dear John Mulaney,

The very first day I learned of your existence was on one of the worst days of my life.

It was February 2014, my senior year of college. I had just spent the better part of a class sobbing in the bathroom over my crumbled, pathetic excuse for a thesis project.

I stared at my red, swollen face in the bathroom mirror, my eyes looking even more bloodshot in the harsh fluorescent lights. I leaned against the cold, white wall of the bathroom and let myself slowly slide to the floor.

And there I remained for several minutes, my eyes welling up again despite my best efforts to keep them dry as I texted my roommate desperately, telling her that I didn’t think I could achieve my dreams. That I wouldn’t be able to graduate. That I didn’t even have the will to pick myself up off that nasty bathroom floor, let alone finish my thesis.

When I got back to my apartment, my roommate had turned on New In Town. “This dude is hysterical, girl,” she said. “You need to see this.”

So together we watched you pace around the stage, making fun of yourself ruthlessly. Your cleverness and wit was absolutely astounding. I had never seen any stand-up like it.

I was hooked immediately. I never laughed harder in my life. You made tears of laughter run down the same cheeks that had just been moistened by tears of sorrow minutes previously. And if that’s not talent, I don’t know what is. That night, you gained a dedicated new fan.

So my roommate and I followed your pursuits religiously. We watched New In Town more times than we could count. And when we discovered you were coming out with a show, Mulaney, we were ecstatic.

We watched you promote it a million times on Twitter, and on your Reddit AMA (where you answered one of my questions, by the way!), and on your Facebook. We could see how excited you were to finally have your own show after spending so many years writing for SNL.

We weren’t so ecstatic when we heard that FOX had cut the number of episodes in your first season (the season finale is tonight), or when we heard critic after critic bashing it. I thought about how you must have felt, to have your baby, your passion, critiqued for the entire world to see. To have your hopes skyrocket, only to crash to the ground.

In November, my roommate and I went to see you perform stand-up in Boston. We sat up in the balcony, watching you walk back and forth on the stage in the flesh. Though we were so excited to see you, we wondered how you would address Mulaney—whether you would try in vain to promote it, to defend it, or to even avoid it entirely.

“Have you heard of my new sitcom, Mulaney?” you said into the microphone.

My roommate elbowed me, wide-eyed. We braced ourselves for what you’d say about your dream that had just been crushed. And that’s when you blew me away once again. “If you haven’t, it’s okay,” you said. “You are not alone, let me tell you.”

The audience roared with laughter as you ripped apart your own sitcom, laughing at yourself with that classic Mulaney self-deprecation.

Once again, you made tears of laughter roll down my cheeks. But as I laughed, I thought about the first day I heard of you, when I was struggling to get myself off that bathroom floor.

I wondered to myself whether you had one of those days, when you didn’t think you could achieve your dreams, when you felt exhausted, defeated. And I thought to myself, if I’m ever in that position again, I hope I handle it the same way you did.

I hope I can manage to inspire others as much as you have inspire me. I hope I have the courage to not only keep on going after my dreams, unafraid, but to laugh at myself, to make my failure my armor, my fuel to keep on going.

You taught me to laugh at myself. And for that, I can’t thank you enough.

Sincerely,

Your biggest fan

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