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Comedian John Mulaney says Secret Service investigated him over a joke he told on 'SNL'

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They don't find jokes about killing the president to be funny

Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Comedian John Mulaney hosted "Saturday Night Live" on Feb. 29 and made a joke alluding to the killing of the president — though without mentioning the president himself or the office of the president.

As a result of the joke, Mulaney revealed this week that the U.S. Secret Service opened a file on him and investigated his comments.

What happened?

Mulaney told Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday's episode of "Jimmy Kimmel Live" that a joke he told on "SNL" on Feb. 29 got him a call from the Secret Service.

The joke, he said, was not about Trump but about leap year and the murder of "powerful maniac" Julius Caesar at the hands of the Roman Senate.

What was the joke? From Mulaney's Feb. 29 appearance on "SNL" (emphasis added):

Leap year began in the year 45 B.C. under Julius Caesar — this is true. He started the leap year in order to correct the calendar, and we still do it to this day.

Another thing that happened under Julius Caesar was he was such a powerful maniac that all the senators grabbed knives, and they stabbed him to death.

That would be an interesting thing if we brought that back now.

For a joke that he now says wasn't about the president, it is worth noting he followed the punchline with, "I asked my lawyer if I could make that joke, and he said, 'Let me call another lawyer.' And that lawyer said yes."

John Mulaney Monologue - SNL youtu.be

Mulaney repeated the joke to Kimmel, but told it slightly (yet significantly) differently from how he told it on "SNL."

"In February, I did a joke that was not about Donald Trump," Mulaney said on Kimmel's show. "The joke was about how it was a leap year and leap year was started by Julius Cesar to correct the calendar. And another thing that happened with Caesar was that he was stabbed to death by a bunch of senators because he went crazy. And I said that's an interesting thing that could happen" (emphasis added).

Afterward, he said, the Secret Service "opened a file" on him over the joke.

According to Mulaney, "The person vetting me ... was very understanding that the joke had nothing to do with Donald Trump — it was an elliptical reference to him. I didn't say anything about him."

He added, "They were very nice in the interview. In terms of risk assessment, no one who's ever looked at me has thought I registered above a one."

Despite his claim that the joke was not about the president, Mulaney told Kimmel that part of his explanation to the Secret Service to defend himself was that he had been making jokes about Trump for a long time.

"I said I have been making jokes about him since 2007, so I have been making fun of him for 13 years," Mulaney said. "They said, OK, if it's a joke, then I am cleared by the Secret Service."

John Mulaney on Secret Service Investigation, SNL Joke Backlash & Writing for Seth Meyers youtu.be

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