John Mulaney
The Salt and Pepper Diner
I wanna tell you one story, uh. This- this was the best meal I've ever had in my life, alright? This happened when I was eleven years old in Chicago, Illinois where I grew up and it took place at a little restaurant called The Salt and Pepper Diner, which was a family restaurant in the city. Yes, yes, you know the Salt and Pepper diner? It's a wonderful family restaurant in Chicago, which means that it caters mainly to teenagers and homeless schizophrenics.

Now I go into this place one day when I'm eleven with my best friend John. Now I should say that his name is also John, I'm not calling myself my own best friend. It's a separate human being. We walk into the Salt and Pepper diner one day, and they had a jukebox there, alright? And the jukebox was three plays for a dollar, so we put in seven dollars, and selected twenty-one plays of Tom Jones' "What's New Pussycat?" And then we ordered and waited.

Here's the thing about when "What's New Pussycat?" plays over and over and over and over and over again. The second time it plays, your immediate thought is not, "Hey someone's playing 'What's New Pussycat' again." It's, "Hey, 'What's New Pussycat' is a lot longer than I first thought, and it has like a dip in the middle." You know how some songs have a dip, like Guns n' Roses' "November Rain?" You're like, "Hey, 'November Rain's' over!" No it's not. There's more. The third time it plays, you're thinking maybe someone's playing "What's New Pussycat" again. The fourth time it plays you're thinking, "Whoa. Someone just played 'What's New Pussycat' four times, or at least someone played it twice, and it's a really long song." So, the fifth time is the kicker. Now, we're watching the entire diner at this point. Most people have gotten wind as to what's going on, and we're staring at this one guy and he's sitting in his booth and his like hand is shaking while his stupid kids jump around and like he's been on to us since the beginning, and he's staring at his coffee cup like this and he has this look on his face like-ah- like he just got his thirty day chip from anger management. He's staring like this, and the fourth play fades out. It's dead quiet, and then, I don't know if you know this, but the song begins very subtly: "Bwah-bwa What's New Pussycat?" and the guy goes, "God dammit" and he pounds on the table, and silverware flies everywhere and it was fantastic.

But a word about my friend John, and what a genius he was because, when we were first up at the jukebox and we were punching in the What's New Pussycats, alright? I'd punched in about seven, and then John says to me, "Hey, hey, hey wait. Before we drop in another What's New Pussycat. Let's put in one 'It's Not Unusual.'" And that is when the afternoon went from good to great. After seven "What's New Pussycat"s in a row, suddenly, "Dum, da na, dum, da-na-na-na-na-na, It's not unusual," and the sigh of relief has swept through the diner; people were ecstatic. It was like the liberation of France. You know, for years, scientists have wondered, can you make grown men and women weep tears of joy by playing Tom Jones' "It's Not Unusual"? And the answer is yes, you can, as long as it is preceded by seven "What's New Pussycat"s.

And on the other hand, when we went back. Holy shit. "It's Not Unusual" fades out. It's dead quiet: "Bwah-bwa What's New Pussycat?" People went fucking insane. No one could handle it. No one could handle it, and they were surrounded by like this seemingly indifferent staff, you know, that was just like, "Yep, same shit as always." My only wish is that one of the schizophrenics had stood up and been like, "Now you know. Now you know what it's like to live in my brain." They unplug the jukebox after eleven plays, and that was the best meal I've ever had.

Thank you very much, San Francisco. This was great, thank you. Hope to see you again real soon. My name's John Mulaney. Have a good night.

Let's give it up for John Mulaney!