John Mulaney Discusses Dybbuks

Mulaney joined Late Night With Seth Meyers to put forth a theory of Jewish ghosts and the 2020 Election.

John Mulaney has officially joined the staff of Late Night with Seth Meyers as a staff writer, and he stopped by the show on Thursday, November 12 to discuss the role ghosts played in the election, naturally. And while we’re all for ghost talk, what especially caught our attention was how decidedly Jewish this conversation turned out to be.

Mulaney’s bit opens with various talking heads on cable news shows saying things like, “I felt like John Lewis was speaking to us;” “I had a vision of John McCain in heaven smiling down at this result;” and, “Ruth Bader Ginsburg is looking down on us,” etc.

Mulaney then says: “Hey, America, do you believe in ghosts or not?! Make up your minds.”

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The theorizing of ghosts in the election goes on:

“McCain and Lewis straight-up haunted this election,” Mulaney says. “But they were not the only ones.”

“Why would so many ghosts support Biden?” asked Meyers. “We know that many of the elderly went for Trump, so why would we not see a larger red wave among the passed away?”

Mulaney then tells a tale of Joe Biden traveling through the underworld and across the River Styx:

John Mulaney

“But despite that, next week when it’s all over and no one cares about the election, you’ll see this honest discourse about ghosts disappear from the media, and I’m sick of it! Do you know how many people have seen a ghost? I don’t, but based on my own field work I know, like, 70 people who have. So I’m sure there’s one seen every day. And coverage of these hauntings shouldn’t be something we only talk about every four years at election time.”

He’s completely deadpan throughout it all, and it is perfect.

We then get into a discussion of Patrick Swayze, a ghost, delivering that “key Catskills bloc” because of his “Dirty Dancing ties.”

Then we move into a discussion of the late RBG — and that’s where things take a surprisingly Jewish turn. As a reminder, John Mulaney is not Jewish, nor is Seth Meyers (though thanks to his name… and face… and entire personality… everyone kinda thinks he is).

Here’s the whole exchange:

Seth: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s last words were, ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.’ Trump shockingly did not honor that wish and pushed through the appointment of Amy Coney Barret.

John: Amy Coney Island, yes.

Seth: Her dying wish was rejected and if ghosts were real, you think she would have intervened.

John: Oh! Oh, oh, oh. No. Your folly is not in your logic but in your theology, you see? In Judaism, there is no defined afterlife. So Ruth Bader Ghostburg would therefore have to be what we call a dybbuk, which is a much more dangerous spirit who can possess a human being and can terrorize the living. I would keep an eye on people like Susie Essman and see if they have lace collars all of a sudden.

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Before we keep going, let’s just fact-check Mulaney real quick.

Here’s how Arielle Kaplan, Alma’s spooky Judaism expert, explains dybbuks: “Enter dybbukim, the infamous spirits of Jewish folklore. Technically a “clinging demon,” dybbukim come from Sitra Achra, the kabbalistic term to describe hell, and roam the earth in search of a suitable living body to penetrate. These malicious spirits tended to possess women and children, and were thought to be the cause of mental illnesses like dissociative identity disorder. Fortunately, Jewish folklore relates a cure to the dybbuk dilemma — an exorcism led by a rabbi, usually including the blowing of a shofar! Fun!”

So, John Mulaney is not wrong. (Perhaps his Jewish wife, Annamarie Tendler, has been teaching him all about Jewish folklore??) And the fact he accurately got at the point that RBG would not be found in the Christian conception of heaven? We LOVE to see it.

Also, the Susie Essman reference, the Jewish actress known for her roles in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Broad City, is just spot on.

Okay, back to the dybbuk conversation:

Seth: So what you’re saying is Trump could have a dybbuk on his hand?

John: And not just one dybbuk. I believe another Jewish phantasm humiliated the Trump campaign this week when Ed Koch — former mayor of New York and a playful ghost like a Jewish Casper — sent his former enemy Rudy Giuliani to the Four Seasons Landscaping Company, a prank that has dead Koch written all over it.

ed koch

Seth: But now here’s my question: Why would Giuliani trust the ghost Ed Koch, AKA Dead Koch?

John: Ah, well, the Dead Koch Dybbuk, yes, probably took the form of a young blond reporter from Eastern Europe. As you know, Rudy cannot resist those. Pretty embarrassing for Mr. ‘Bafungiuliani,’ the Italian silly ghost.

dead koch dybbuk

And that, friends, is where we end: The entire Four Seasons Total Landscaping fiasco is the fault of Dead Koch Dybbuk playing a ghost prank on his enemy, Rudy Giuliani. Honestly, very New York, very Jewish, and we very much believe it.

Watch the whole clip here:

John Mulaney: Thank you, as always, for your excellent Jewish jokes.

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