Why Everyone's Talking About This "SNL" Joke Right Now
In February, host John Mulaney talked about an infrequently referenced amendment that's now very relevant.
On the Feb. 29 episode of Saturday Night Live, host John Mulaney made a joke in his opening monologue about the Third Amendment that suddenly seems strangely prescient. Early Friday morning, reports started to come out that Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser had evicted 200 National Guard soldiers who'd been brought in from Utah to subdue protestors from the district's hotels. The mayor's office did not return a request for comment from The Guardian, but Utah Senator Mike Lee tweeted about the situation and claimed that other states' troops were also getting the boot. As the validity and legality of the decision is being discussed on Twitter, many users have brought up an infrequently referenced item in the Bill of Rights: Yep, the Third Amendment.
The exact wording of the Third Amendment of the Constitution reads, "No Soldier shall, in time of peace, be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law." Per Encyclopedia Brittanica, the context for this being included in the Bill of Rights is that, before American independence, British troops would occupy the colonies and sometimes lodge in private homes, whether or not the dwellers wanted them to. It's one of those freedoms you probably don't think about too often.
And that's the thrust of Mulaney's joke.
"The Founding Fathers were dumb, because they made the Constitution, and they numbered it, and the order is weird," he said. Acting out a conversation between two unnamed creators of the document, Mulaney went through the first two (which are fresh in all of our minds), and then really went in on the third.
"Amendment No. 3: The army can't live in your house," the comedian demanded, as Founding Father No. 1.
"Okay, buddy—I think you're going through your own thing in life right now," he answered, as Founding Father No. 2.
Then, to drive home how strange it sounds to have to assert this right in 2020, Mulaney told a story.
"And don't you thank God every day for that Third Amendment?" he joked. "The other afternoon, this was Tuesday, I was in my apartment and the buzzer rang, and it was the 101st Airborne, and they said, 'Permission to live in your house?' And I went, 'Third Amendment.' And he said, 'Gentlemen, he's invoked the Third. Let's fall out and find another house to live in—a thing that we do.'"
— Saturday Night Live – SNL (@nbcsnl) March 1, 2020
Seeing as Mulaney is one of the most oft-quoted (and memed) comedians on the internet right now, social media immediately made the connection between the D.C. mayor's evident call and the comedian's American history joke.
"John Mulaney really spoke the Third Amendment into existence," a Twitter user said, commenting on one of Lee's tweets about the evictions. "John Mulaney prepared me for this National Guard and Third Amendment controversy, I thought of him immediately," said another.
The comedian hasn't yet acknowledged the prescience of his joke. His recent tweets are mostly of a serious and political nature. And for more on the current protests nationwide, check out 20 Signs From Black Lives Matter Protests Everyone Should See.