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John Mulaney: ‘From Scratch’

| Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Emma Kirner

Who exactly is John Mulaney? A very good question.

As a big fan of his work, I felt like I knew the man in the perfectly tailored suit well: Mulaney grew up in a very Catholic family residing in (the suburbs of) Chicago and went to Georgetown University for a degree in English. He then pursued a career in comedy, wrote for Saturday Night Live and married the love of his life, Annamarie Tendler, in which they had a French bulldog named Petunia together. To his fans, his brutal honesty about his life made us feel like we were old friends, but he is a comedian, after all, and it doesn’t mean everything he says is true or representative of everything going on in his life.

If the previous paragraph was too nuanced, allow me to fill you in. In December 2020, John Mulaney admitted himself into rehab for alcohol and cocaine abuse. The 60-day stint was a big shock to friends and fans alike, because he was said to be sober, which was a large topic of discussion in his 2012 comedy special “John Mulaney: New in Town.” Of course, the beloved comic was met with an abundance of support, but it made jokes like “sometimes I get nervous on airplanes” a lot darker. When he was released from rehab in February 2021, the public learned shortly after that he asked his wife, Annamarie Tendler, for a divorce months prior to his intervention. This came as a surprise, and, to add a cherry on top, he began a serious relationship with actress Olivia Munn (who is now rumored to be pregnant) quickly after his recovery. As a long-time fan of his, I was so confused; was the man on the stage all just an act?

As these headlines have been swirling for months, many fans drifted away, and John Mulaney said it himself, “All the teenage girls like Bo Burnham more than me now.”

Nevertheless, I remained a fan who was determined for answers. I had the incredible opportunity to see him perform at one of his new string of shows called “From Scratch” this summer at the Troubador in Los Angeles, and, for lack of better words, it was incredible. This somewhat secretive tour has allowed Mulaney to test new material while gearing up for a new comedy special, and I had no idea what to expect. When Mulaney took to stage, I was in awe; he looked healthy! He wore casual attire — sweater, jeans and a pair of sneakers — and even though he wasn’t as lean as he normally appears to be (or “coke skinny,” as he would say) he appeared to be existing in his normal, natural state. A state of existence that he never allowed himself to achieve due to his addiction. It was refreshing. His laid-back appearance added greater authenticity to his act, and he was brutally honest about his intervention, his horrible habits and the total chaos that he is currently living in. Even though the topics presented were heavy, he presented them in such a way that brought light to his struggles and made you laugh with him, not at him. He admits to his mistakes and makes fun of himself for the outrageous lengths he went to acquire drugs and the ridiculous things he did while on them.

Out of all the John Mulaney stand-ups, this one felt the most genuine, and if you ever have a chance to see him, run don’t walk.

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i am the scene editor! if you didn't know already, my favorite band is Oingo Boingo.

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