My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (2018) s05e01 Episode Script

John Mulaney

[David Letterman] I can kinda remember
when I first realized
that I had the ability
to make somebody laugh.
When did that happen for you?
I once did a bit for my mom of,
"What if my dad called
a phone sex operator?"
And it was like, "What are you wearing?"
And he'd go, "Uh, Rockports."
And my mom was drinking a Diet Sprite
and did a huge spit take.
And I was maybe ten or something,
and that was like
I remember thinking,
like, "That's the best feeling."
[theme music playing]
[cheering and applause]
[woman] Let me welcome
Mr. David Letterman!
Thank you very much.
Uh, if you know anything
about stand-up comedy,
and I'll be honest with you.
I'll be candid with you.
To me, the art,
the craft of stand-up comedy
had started to slip.
And then you start to watch
his man's body of work,
and oh my God,
he is, in my view There's nobody better.
Chicago's own, do me a favor,
John Mulaney.
[cheering and applause]
-How are you doing?
-Nice to see you.
-Hi, John.
-Nice to see you, Dave.
-How you doin'?
-I'm doin' very well. How are you?
I'm good. I don't wanna spend
a great deal of time sucking up to you,
but I will begin by saying
thank you very much for your time,
and, uh, thank thank you very much
for kind of restoring my faith
in the art of stand-up comedy.
Oh. This is surreal,
to be sitting here with you.
It is surreal to get
a compliment from you.
Um I'm trying to accept
more compliments in life,
so I'm gonna take it. I agree.
I'm at the top of my game.
I'm I'm interested.
So, from an early stage in your life,
you wanted to be a stand-up comic?
-That's what appealed to you?
That's what connec
That's what lit the fire.
Excuse me. That's what, uh
Ricky Ricardo lit the fire. Uh
-That sentence has never been uttered.
-That should be the end of the interview.
No, I'd watch I Love Lucy,
and Ricky Ricardo
would go to the club at night,
and he during the day,
he'd be in his apartment,
reading magazines and stuff.
And he'd be in a suit,
smoking a cigarette.
Can you imagine?
And, um yeah, I thought
I want to work at night in the club.
So, uh let's go to to Baby J.
When I saw this thing
Folks, you know
what we're talkin' about, right?
When I walked into my intervention,
I knew immediately
that it was an intervention.
Do you know how bad
of a drug problem you have to have
if, when you open a door
and see people gathered,
your first and immediate thought is,
"This is probably an intervention
about my drug problem."
I thought this was a tremendous document.
Thank you.
Because here we have
the absolute nadir of your life.
-But yet, it was reassuring.
It was entertaining. Uh It was hopeful.
-When you were in rehab
and somebody brought
something like that to you,
would you have found that helpful?
Um I wrote it
and and told it from a place
um that would have been helpful
to me then,
which is, um
"This is infuriating."
-The experience of being in rehab?
Yes, it's not immediately, uh
great nights of sleep and serenity.
-Not at all.
-[light chuckling]
Um I didn't wanna
hear anything about how
"Oh, I I just I hit bottom,
and immediately, my friends were there,
and I was so grateful."
And I I had zero gratitude.
I was a very [chuckles]
I was a very, uh uncomfortable
Was it embarrassing
because you had been caught,
you had been found out?
-Was that part of it?
-Oh yeah.
If you tried to hide a drug habit
for years successfully,
getting found out is quite embarrassing.
-Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.
Um And then, you're totally powerless
at an intervention like that.
Any anti-authority streak in you
will come out very hard.
Do they try to just knock this out of you?
psychologically, intellectual.
"Okay, stop it, wise guy.
Stop it. Stop it. Stop it."
Yeah, the actual, uh, detox from drugs
was very, uh physically uncomfortable,
and I'd been on a lot of benzodiazepine
like Xanax and Klonopin and stuff.
Getting off those can be very rough.
So I was in the detox hospital room,
and I was grinding my teeth so much
that a molar cracked,
and I went in to see the doctor.
I'd been there about four days,
and I said to him,
I said, "I know, but I'm going."
"I've heard every argument you guys have,
but I'm going back to New York City."
And he didn't argue or anything.
He just went [tuts]
"John, we both know how this movie ends."
And that was it.
And I just kind of nodded
and went back to my room and stayed.
-There was something just
Yeah, you agreed with the diagnosis.
I wouldn't have even thought
I was addicted to it.
-It's just how I lived every day.
So you wake up, take a couple Adderall,
uh feel there's too much of an edge,
take half a Klonopin.
Got a little too sleepy, have to do, um
you know, have to finish a script
and then get on the phone,
take another Adderall.
The Adderall's wearing off,
which isn't the best feeling,
so let's just take one Adderall
with a half a Xanax
and just ride that all day long.
-No kidding.
This, uh It seems exhausting.
It was exhausting,
and it was a full-time job.
Yeah, I would If you asked me what I did,
I would have said,
"I wait on corners, texting furiously."
Uh I I have endless questions
about this part of your life.
You're interested in the drug use
because you didn't try a lotta drugs or?
No, I Well, I was addicted to alcohol.
-You were?
-And I started drinking early, like 11.
-Started drinking at 11.
-Yeah. Same.
And continued, and then at 34,
I gave it up for good.
It was very difficult,
as I think you would attest,
to give these things up.
But I think that I was
high minors compared to you.
You were doing
the Late Night Show at that time?
-I Yes.
-So you had to quit in the middle of that?
Yeah, at the very beginning
because I thought
"If you continue to do this,
you're gonna lose your job,"
and I had already lost the job
I had a daytime show.
-And I had lost that job.
Not alcohol related.
[chuckles] Maybe it was.
-Come to think of it.
-Your morning show didn't suffer?
And I thought if I
I'll never forgive myself if the alcohol
causes me to lose that show.
Did you But you drank heavily?
Were you an alcoholic?
-Are you an alcoholic?
-Oh yeah.
-I'm an alcoholic and a drug addict.
-[Mulaney chuckles]
-[cheering and applause]
Thank you. Thank you.
-And from a very young age, so
This isn't some adult habit, you know.
-[Letterman chuckles]
-Yeah, no, I am doing very well, and
-Well, you look great.
-Thank you. So do you.
[whooping and applause]
I'll have 'Cause you asked,
and 'cause it's I'm proud of it,
I'll have three years,
on December 20th, of sobriety. Um
[whooping and whistling]
I am taken by the comparison
of other people I know of
You were affiliated
with Saturday Night Live.
-How many years did you work there?
-I worked there for five years.
-Five years, and were you
[cheering and applause]
I had a goddamn show for 30 years.
[laughter, cheering, and applause]
-You really did.
-You really did.
-Yeah, I really did.
Di Did you ever think
of John Belushi in your condition?
Um Not actively,
but after that big intervention
and everything blew up,
I was in my room at rehab,
and I talked to Lorne Michaels
on the phone for like an hour one day.
At one point, he goes, "I have nothing
to do if you wanna just talk."
He went on about
how Peacock wasn't launching well
on Samsung devices.
-On Samsung devices.
-Samsung devices, they really
How Comcast messed up
a certain part of the Peacock launch,
but earlier in the call, we're talking,
and he goes,
"I knew John Belushi for seven years."
"I've been talking
about him for 48 years."
He goes,
"That's the shrapnel that happens"
-"when someone goes down like that."
And he goes,
"You know, John didn't wanna die."
You know, he didn't plan to.
Just 'cause it's a story, just 'cause
it's sorta set in stone like history,
people don't want to die from this.
Wa Was Did that Was that a hard push?
W Was that an additional force
that you had not conjured previously?
Thinking about the shrapnel
you leave behind
if you go down that way, yeah.
-Were your parents angry about this?
-I think they were scared.
-Scared, yeah.
-I think so.
They were scared,
and we had a lot of figuring out how to
we had to figure out
how to communicate about it, um,
because I had never let my personal life
interfere with my family.
Even from the time I was a teenager.
When you came home
at night on the weekend,
you had to wake my mom and go, "I'm home,"
and then go to bed, and
So I'd be, like, you know,
on LSD or something.
-I'd be like [curtly] "Mom, I'm home."
-And walk upstairs.
-And did you take LSD?
-Yeah. Did you ever take that?
-I was I was petrified of it.
And it sort of got popular
when I was in college
and then when I went to California, and I
I heard these miserable stories about,
"Oh, and then a fire truck came by,"
and I thought, "I you know, fine.
I've seen fire trucks."
And then, uh comedy albums,
for a long time,
in my youth, were a big, big deal,
to get 'em,
and and they weren't that many.
There were not a lot of comedy albums,
but you had some, eh?
-I had tons.
-Yeah, like who?
Uh A lot of Uh, well, I mean,
Chris Rock: Bring the Pain
had just come out.
Um I had albums
from comics like Dave Attell.
Um And then
I think you were quoted as saying
something on that album, an album,
was the funniest thing
you'd ever heard in comedy.
-Dave Attell's Skanks For The Memories is
is a an excellent comic
at the absolute top of his game.
The other thing
that I was greatly fond of
is talking about being bullied in school,
and they would they would insult you
by yelling insults to you.
And the specific insult
that would buckle your knees was always
I may have this backwards.
-Uh "High-waisted with girlie hips."
"Look at that high-waisted man.
"He got feminine hips."
-Yeah, that's right.
Yeah, that's right. [laughs]
The best, uh, also was, um
a kid in high school
Uh, I was walking down the hall
with a girl.
I can't remember who,
but not a girlfriend or anything,
just a girl and talking to her and
maybe a girl I had crush on or something,
and this kid ran up,
and he jumped in front of us, and he went,
"Hey baby,
your man smells like cold pasta."
-Can you take me through that?
Just he thought I smelled
like cold pasta,
and he wasn't going
to let that not be said.
But is it is that insulting?
Well, you know what I actually took
I really like that he said, "Your man."
[jazzy music playing]
[Letterman] The first time
you've been back in how many years?
I haven't been back here
since I was a senior in high school,
so that would be 23 years.
Does it
Does it make you feel uneasy to be here?
Yeah, yeah.
So the only reason
you're back here is for this.
You would not have come back
to say hi to the kids.
-I have not been invited back.
-Describe for me the kid you were here.
Were you the kid
that was always in trouble?
-The kid that was always funny?
I was like a white-collar criminal,
like I kept, uh
I in in that I was very concerned
with getting caught.
[upbeat music playing]
This is already a big transgression,
that we're walking up this staircase.
They have staircases you can only walk up
and staircases you can only walk down.
Oh good, I'm not crazy.
That really happened.
Did you come here to be funny?
Was this a place for a built-in audience?
-I wasn't
-[woman on PA] The time is now 11:20.
And this marks the end
of this exam period.
Students, please put down
your pencils and pens.
Teachers, please collect
any remaining testing materials.
If testing materials have been collected,
students are dismissed.
Have a great afternoon.
I get calls like that
at the house around dinnertime.
I went to a birthday party
and Mr. McArthur, his name was,
he said,
"That's a sharp shirt you have on."
I said, "Sometimes I use it
instead of scissors."
-Pretty good.
And Mr. McArthur laughed?
-Everyone laughed.
-[chuckles] Everyone!
-And so that
-Then my dad would have these
In the summer,
his law firm would have
these, like, summer parties at our house.
I'd watch Dr. Ruth on TV.
I was, like, five,
and I walk up to his different partners,
and I go, "I'm gonna be a sex therapist."
They'd go, "What?"
And I go, "Sex is an experience of life."
"It brings joy to the body."
I'd just repeat things Dr. Ruth said.
-And I always destroyed.
-Wow, that's pretty edgy, esoteric stuff.
Yeah, it was a very funny bit to do.
I think I knew it's funny
that you're five,
holding a Schweppes, walkin' around.
Did you have a plan when you
You You went to Georgetown.
-I did.
-And you met Nick Kroll.
I meet Nick Kroll
my fourth day of college.
Yeah, and then beyond, you now are
-And then Mike Birbiglia
-Mike Birbiglia.
had just graduated.
So he was in the improv group
that Nick Kroll and I were in.
Nick was the director.
He was a senior. I was a freshman.
He cast me in the improv group.
Birbiglia came to visit,
and he had just done your show.
Uh Like 2003.
And this was unbelievable
And he had an apartment
on Sullivan Street,
and he went to the Comedy Cellar,
and he had just done a set on your show.
-And we were, like, blown away.
And it was a sign.
I went, "Oh, this is an actual life."
-Like, that's You can actually do this.
He makes this amount of money
doing set at the Cellar.
He makes this amount of money
doing Penguin's in Cedar Rapids.
Birbiglia is on Letterman.
He's gonna do
Comedy Central Premium Blend.
Like, there's just these steps.
It was the first time I saw it as a life.
And this was the life you wanted.
Yes, I just had to do
four years of college first.
-[light chuckling]
And then you wanted to be on
You wanted to be a road comic,
and people who do this,
the men and women who are out there
working clubs and big venues, they are
I mean, that's them.
That's in their blood.
That's of them. That's what they wanna do.
Yeah. I like doing improv a lot.
Um So I just love being on stage
in general.
-And was with extremely funny people.
Nick Kroll and Mike Birbiglia.
-And Jacqueline Novak who's a great comic.
-Who else is in that group?
Your comedy pals, men and women.
-Well, from Chicago, Hannibal Buress.
-[audience member] Whoo-hoo!
-[cheering and applause]
-[Mulaney] Yeah.
Ali Wong, um
Nate Bargatze.
Chelsea Peretti.
Like, in my group,
when I was back in California beginning,
I knew who the funniest person was,
the funniest two or three people were,
funnier, certainly, than me.
Do you consider anybody in that group
to be as good as you or better than you?
-Is there somebody you think
-Oh yeah.
Like, who is better than you?
-I mean
Li Well first off,
you know, when I was a writer,
I was writing
for Bill Hader and Fred Armisen.
-Well, okay.
-And Kristen Wiig.
-No more questions.
You know, so that was like
there was no point where I ever looked
at something I wrote for them
and thought, "I could do this better."
What will be the
when you think to yourself,
"I've done enough
one-and-a-half-hour specials."
"I'm done now touring." Will that happen?
Will you move to
Will you direct films? What will you do?
There's lots of other things I wanna do,
but you say it
like it's a crisis right now.
Things are going.
-When are you gonna stop with the comedy?
-What are you going to do? Yeah.
With actual fear in your eyes.
"Uh What's your plan?"
I plan about three months in advance,
and I think planning farther
than that in our in our business is, uh
-Your business.
In my business, yeah.
You know, other than Bob Newhart,
I'm their most famous comedian alumnus
and never invited. Not once.
-Oh yeah. Look at this.
-This is Yeah, this is Wow.
This is This is like a Broadway house,
isn't it?
This is a nice-sized theater.
How many of these productions
were you actually in?
-Many? All? None?
-No, not all.
I wouldn't get cast in a lot of things.
Um I couldn't sing.
-This is a beautiful.
-Yeah, it is nice.
You know what this puts me in the mind of?
Was it eight nights
at Radio City Music Hall?
Seven shows.
-[Letterman] 6,000 seats.
-[Mulaney] 6,600.
-That's a lotta folks.
-That's a lotta folks.
[Letterman] The Hollywood Bowl,
18,000 seats?
-Yeah, I'm going back in May.
So, standing here
with this experience right in front of us,
no way you can project
that you would be playing those venues?
Uh No.
So, when you walk out
and you see these people,
and you make them laugh
within a half of breath
of being out there.
To have pushed that button
just must be a huge thrill.
And when you know you have,
when they're really laughing,
and you know that they don't even
that you're not even
at the best tag of the joke yet.
It's like getting them to lean in
and lean in and lean in,
and then you've got it and pow.
-It's great.
-Well, this is crazy.
Does this experience change your view
of your time at this school?
It's funny, like, standing here
because, when I was a student,
I thought,
"Oh my God, they're on our case 24/7."
Luckily, we have this theater
to goof off in and do things.
And I'm here now.
I'm like, "Well, they built it," you know?
It wasn't, like It wasn't, like,
a clubhouse we found in a sewer, you know?
Did you like high school
better than college?
I liked college better than high school,
but the education in high school
was better than college.
No, this was
the best education I ever got.
Wait, can you get one more thing?
Sorry, 'cause I didn't answer
a question truthfully.
Will you ask me again if I ever thought
I'd be at the Hollywood Bowl?
-Yeah, yeah.
-Because I lied. I said no.
Did you ever think about playing something
that would be 18,000 seats there
because of you,
not not because of a court order?
Did I think I could play,
like, the Hollywood Bowl?
-Yeah, or anything similar.
-I don't want to sound arrogant.
But, yes, when I was in high school,
I thought, "I should be onstage
at the Hollywood Bowl."
-100%, I'm not kidding.
-No, you're kidding.
-No, I'm not.
I had high self-esteem
about how funny I was, and I I
I don't know if this is obnoxious to say,
but I thought, "I should be on
the goddamn stage at the Hollywood Bowl."
Do you share my impression that the state,
the art of the stand-up comedy,
is better now than at any other time
in the history of
I don't know about any other time.
-Oh, I without question.
-Oh yeah?
I think so.
Well, I just mean that there were so many
I love comedy from so many different eras.
I'm more speaking to that
than saying this isn't.
-This is an incredible time.
-Yeah, yeah.
The comics you can go see you
in one week on tour right now is
-Yep, yep.
Oh, Hello.
The backbone
of contemporary American theater
is screaming stuff.
For starters, it wakes the audience up
toward the end of the third act,
but also, it reveals things from the past.
My father was my brother,
and that's why we can't go to lunch today!
I understand that this is something you
and Nick started working on at Georgetown.
Uh, basically,
right as we were graduating,
we wanted to host
a show together in New York City.
Um We didn't wanna host it as ourselves,
and we were at a place
called the Cedar Tavern in New York.
And we were talking, and we said,
"What about those guys
that are like, you know,
like those guys, you know, uh"
-I'm gonna need a little more information.
-No, it was just like
The We knew immediately
what the other meant.
It was like, "You know those guys
that wear turtlenecks and blazers,
and they, like they're in, like,
Woody Allen movies from the '80s
and they're like, "Ooh, he's a bachelor,
but looks like a bowl o' oatmeal,"
you know?
There was There was a sort
of bizarre late '70s sex-symbol thing.
-Uh, early '80s.
-I'll take your word for this.
This is specifically
Upper West Side New York?
Yeah, Upper West Side New York,
Strand Bookstore. Um
Men that hang out
in used bookstores with tote bags, uh
who, uh, you know, love NPR
but are uninformed.
-And they're liberal racists, basically.
-Uh I
You were a guest
on our final Oh, Hello on Broadway.
[Letterman] Yeah. It was so funny,
and I was so intimidated
because I knew, "Oh gosh,
I'm supposed to go up there onstage
and ask for more tuna or not enough tuna
or too much tuna.
You were supposed to say,
"That's too much tuna"
But it's okay. It really doesn't matter.
Whatever you say,
we'll lower a big sandwich.
Yes, that's Uh, but I The The The
And friends of mine who have seen it,
we still banter back and forth
with moments from that show.
-You do?
-Oh yeah!
The place went crazy when you walked up.
I've never felt
-I've No, I've never felt
-Again, thank you. Uh
But the one is Griffin Dunne.
Yeah! Griffin Dunne was also mentioned
in the play towards the end.
That's what I'm talking about.
That's the the joke.
The two of you are prone on the stage,
and some argument ensues about actors
and so on and so New York City actors.
-Who's New York based?
-Who's New York based?
-I say Griffin Dunne is New York based.
-Yeah, and then
Then Gil says he's not.
I say, "Griffin Dunne lives in Rhinebeck."
"He can be in the city in 90 minutes."
"Don't you ever fucking tell me
that Griffin Dunne is not New York based."
That's the point I love,
"Don't you ever fucking tell me
Griffin Dunne is not New York based."
It's very intense acting.
The other thing,
and I'll be honest with you,
I didn't know that this was gonna
be something that would be for me,
uh was the Sponge Cake Gang.
What are they? Lunchbox Gang? The Lunch
-The Sack Lunch Bunch.
-The Sack Lunch Bunch!
Did you watch that?
I watched the Sack Lunch Bunch,
and I was, again, slack-jawed.
-Oh, thank you.
-Because the the quality of it
Have you folks seen the Sack Lunch?
[cheering and applause]
Have you seen it?
That's great, okay.
What you're about to see
is a children's TV special,
and I made it on purpose.
It's a show for kids by adults
with kids present.
The quality of it across the board
-And I'm thinking, "My God, kid actors."
-They were great.
And we know, basically, kid actors
make everybody wince a little bit.
-These kids were fantastic.
-They're fantastic.
They were We had a lotta help
from the Roundabout Theatre in New York.
-Uh These kids did a lot of stage stuff.
-They were great.
-They were great.
-Just, again, flawless.
-Just seamless, flawless, just
-That's my favorite thing I ever did.
I've heard you say that.
So what does that suggest
for the future of your life?
Uh, so you know, I love doing it,
um and, uh
you know, Netflix was like, "Oh, cool.
You gonna do stand up again?"
So, I really enj
That type of variety programming, um
just it didn't exist anymore,
and I was really into it,
and still really wanna
find something to do.
God, it was so good,
and then Jake Gyllenhaal as Mr. Music.
Mr. Music, yeah.
[French accent]
'Cause there is music here ♪
Music there ♪
Music, music everywhere ♪
Use your ears, be aware ♪
You're making music everywhere! ♪
I think it's his best performance.
I'm not joking, and I've told him.
Everybody said to me,
"Oh, and there's jokes in there"
"It's a kids show,
but there's jokes in there for adults,"
and I thought, "Okay great,"
but that that's not the definition
of that show.
The show, as a piece of work
uh I would do that show,
and it would be junk.
-That's not true.
-Yes, it is true.
-Why'd it be junk if you did it?
-Don't raise your voice.
[Mulaney] Oh, look. They're so
They're so formal. Please stop.
Hi. How's it going?
I'm John. What's your name?
I'm Dave. Nice to see you.
That's all the time we have, kids.
You know what might be fun?
With the boom, just periodically hit
one of the kids in the head with it.
Boink! Whoa! Hello!
Sorry to call you kids.
I have a son
who is just about in this age group,
and I refer to him as a kid.
-Okay, dummies. Any questions?
What is different from when you went here?
You all seem a lot more relaxed.
I heard you threw a party
in the principal's office.
Oh my God. No.
I was near and around wild events
but never fully the person doing it.
Are you still friends
with people you met here?
How did those friendships change
when you became more famous?
Yes, I'm still friends
with a lotta people from high school.
More from
people from college would reach out, yeah.
-Did people bug you for money?
-Uh, yes.
[Mulaney laughs]
Here today, I've had quite a few requests.
I have a question about college advice.
Oh, college advice.
-What's your advice?
-My advice is not relevant.
Because it wasn't
in the same last couple of centuries.
Do you relate to your character,
Andrew Glouberman?
Come on. Just do it.
Twist my bad, little piggy titties.
Oh, the filth,
it just rolled right off his tongue.
I definitely relate
to, uh, puberty being a nightmare,
but I'm not
as psychotically perverted as Andrew,
um and that's probably the main thing
I should say to that question.
When I first, like, got to Ignatius,
my main reason for coming was the food.
-It's really good.
-[Mulaney] How were you aware
He's eating his way through high school!
This is just great.
How do you, like, come up with jokes
that are funny
but don't get you canceled?
Oh, that's a good question.
I don't actually think
about the second part.
I don't mean that I'm
I have a barometer, I think, for what
would be offensive or objectionable,
but that's sort of a thing
discussed by journalists a lot.
I know a lot of people
who get flak for things they've done,
but they continue to have big careers,
so it's just negative feedback,
and that's a lot of life.
So I've seen most of everything
you've published,
and I know quite a lot about you,
and I know
that your life has changed a bit.
-We see that you have a two-year-old son.
-That's right.
Not something you had ever
considered having prior to that?
Well, it wasn't so much
that I thought I wouldn't as I
it was never a good day to have one.
You know,
I was like, "Oh, today's pretty packed."
"And I was hoping to sleep
till 4:55 tomorrow, so"
I have to say
it's like a lot of things, like mortality.
I just wasn't thinking about it.
I was just, like, you know,
kind of living one minute to the next.
-Yeah, yeah.
-And then, this guy came along,
and, you know, uh
I was starstruck when I met him.
-I went, "Oh, there you are."
Yeah, yeah.
You know, like,
"You're that thing I couldn't find."
I was looking in not good places and then,
"Oh, there you are."
That was my first thought.
I did the same thing with having a child,
and it was never a good day.
-Like FedEx is gonna bring one by.
Uh, and then, when it happened,
I realized, "Well, now,
my life is actually beginning."
Was it a surprise when it happened?
No. No, it was not a surprise,
and and a great source of anxiety for me.
-Leading up to it.
-Yeah. Did you go through any of that?
No, it was a big surprise. Uh
It was It was Look. It was a
We were both We were really, "Huh!"
Two years old, just about, is what he is?
-He is two years old.
-Two years old.
-That's his name.
Yeah, Malcolm is his name.
Give us an idea
If you weren't here today,
you'd be spending the whole day
with Malcolm and his mother?
Yeah, we'd probably at the Chicago
Children's Museum at Navy Pier.
No applause at all. Wow.
One, it's adorable. Two, local.
Nothing from anybody, all right.
Um We'd be at the Chicago
Children's Museum at Navy Pier.
-[enthusiastic cheering]
-Yeah! Right? Yeah!
Somebody was saying of you,
you idolized your father,
you were in awe of your father.
-Am I even closer here?
-Yeah, yeah, very much so.
And I don't know
that I could say that about my father.
He was my dad, and, you know,
it didn't go much beyond that.
I I enjoyed my time with him.
-What kinda relationship did you have?
-Uh, distant. He worked six days a week.
Yeah, my dad traveled a lot for work.
Um He was a corporate lawyer.
He'd be doing big deals
all around the world.
And so it was a bit
like a celebrity coming home. Um
This guy comes in in a suit, looks great,
and, uh, you know,
wants things different immediately.
-Did your siblings feel the same?
That's a good question.
Carolyn, what did you think of
-Wait a minute.
-That's my sister, Carolyn.
Oh, hi!
[cheering and applause]
My friends at school would tell me that
"Your family
is like those black-and-white '50s videos
about how to make,
you know, a microwave meal."
But, like, not, like
He didn't get on the floor
and play with you.
He stood, and you looked up,
and he'd go, "What grade are you in?"
I'd go, "Second grade," and he went,
"Okay, and how's second grade?" You know?
And was the expectation for you
and all the kids to be lawyers?
I mean, it was
it was what they knew about,
so anything that wasn't that,
they'd be very confused,
like, "And then what would happen?"
I remember being I was at lunch
at John Barleycorn with my dad
when I was, like, 13.
[audience members whooping]
And Yeah. See, we've come a long way
from the children's museum.
You guys blew it.
We were at John Barleycorn,
and I was going and he goes,
"So you you you want to be a comedian?"
I was like, "Yeah, I wanna be a comedian."
"I'm gonna be a comedian and be on stage
and be in movies and stuff."
And he went, "So, best case scenario,
what? You're like Steve Martin?"
To him, Steve Martin
was an unserious idiot on TV.
"And that, like so best case,
you're like Steve Martin?"
Like with real derision, you know?
[jazz playing]
I was telling John
I'm thrilled about this opportunity
because I'm thrilled about John,
and I'm thrilled that finally,
I get to talk to somebody
who's pretty much my age.
Well, you know, middle age has
its pluses and minuses, right?
Uh I
I like that you're both calling
it middle age.
[Chip] That's where we both are.
North of 70 each.
-I'm just gonna burden you both with this.
-[Mulaney] Go ahead.
Years ago, my son was,
I think, five years old,
and I thought, now or never,
we should go down to Cape Canaveral
and watch a shuttle take off.
So we're down there,
and so now, I've got the binoculars
trained right on the space shuttle.
I can't take my eyes off of it.
I wanna see the moment the thing goes.
Here's my son right there,
and he said, "Dad, can I take a look?"
-And I said no.
-[Mulaney chuckles]
And it's haunted me to this day.
Caught up in the moment.
Yes, but at the expense of my young son.
Look, the fact that you took him there
to see, you know, doesn't help the story.
-But it's just it's not the worst thing.
-On the other hand, he's a mile away.
You seem to be
successfully rationalizing it.
The episodes he relates,
do you remember when they happened?
-[Chip] Yes.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
Do you remember the
when you ordered one black coffee
at McDonald's when we were all little?
Yep, absolutely, yeah.
In the distance, we see a McDonald's.
We see the golden arches,
and we got so excited.
We started chanting,
"McDonald's, McDonald's,
McDonald's, McDonald's."
And my dad pulled into the drive through,
and we started cheering,
and then he ordered
one black coffee for himself
and kept driving.
A lotta comedy is based on an incongruity.
You observe things,
and you observe an incongruity,
like you're driving to McDonald's
with four kids in the car,
you oughta get 'em something.
Now, wait a minute.
So you're suggesting
that that was a joke on your part.
I was clueless, and as we pull out,
my wife said nicely,
"Do you know what you just did?"
And then she explained that the kids
were screaming, "McDonald's, McDonald's"
when I'm pulling in, and I didn't deliver.
He thought we were cheering
for the coffee he was about to get.
So sort of like not sharing
your binoculars with someone.
-This is the same
-[Chip] I didn't deliver.
It's the same story, isn't it?
-Did you have pangs of guilt over this?
-No. I'd have colleagues
Another part of parenting,
and anybody with kids recognizes this
John, uh went through periods
of addiction.
I If it's me, I'm scared to death.
-You were scared to death.
Were you surprised
at how bad the addiction was?
I was surprised
when he starts telling, in that show,
what it was he was
-[Chip] Yes, yes.
-His daily diet.
-Yes, no. Very much surprised.
-[Letterman] Yeah.
And who does your wife talk to?
You and your wife.
To get any kind of
You know, you're looking for a place where
the ice won't give out from under you.
Well, I guess, most helpfully,
it's many of the
many of the doctors
at the facility he went to.
And they would talk to you as parents.
They also read us a letter,
in which the letter is written
by your addiction,
and it's telling you, "Hi.
I'm your addiction. I'm here to kill you,"
and it's rather bloodcurdling.
That, of course,
was the daily fear, wasn't it?
Yes. Yes.
-I'm sorry you were so scared.
The normal loving reaction, so
Uh, forgive me. I find this,
the three of us here, touching.
-I just do.
-It's very nice.
-Are you having a good time?
-Great time. Great time.
In rearing your own son,
do you see relatable examples?
Do you steer clear of them,
you embrace them?
I knew my parents
loved each other very much,
and that added a lot of, uh
safety, I felt.
They were like a unit.
They really like each other.
So Olivia and I try to show Malcolm
how much we love each other.
So that provides security. Easy enough.
Yeah. Other things, though,
I personally steer clear from.
I mean,
it was not emotionally touchy-feely at all
and kind of
You know what? I will say this.
I'm embarrassed by this story,
but my son was a couple weeks old,
and he was upset, and I was I was going
Oh, I was just putting a diaper on him.
He was so little that diapers were huge,
so you had to be very
and he's crying,
and I was going, "You're fine."
And I caught myself,
and I thought, "Oh, that's odd."
But I don't know. You know, it's strange
because do you ever think, like
'Cause I assume you have
a different relationship with Harry
than with your dad?
Oh yeah. Uh I I I
I I just so bad wanted
to be parent of the year.
Uh They're still counting the votes.
But all I really wanted to do,
and I know this is not good,
all I really wanna do is make him laugh.
From that early moment
when they start to smile and giggle,
that's all I wanted to do.
Even today, that's all I wanna do.
-I feel like, "Okay, I'm done."
That's all I can do.
My parents are very big on They go,
"Oh, well, don't let him charm you
into tricking you."
I'm like
-So don't let your son charm you?
-"Oh, look at that smile."
"He's really charming.
Be careful. He might"
Like he's a confidence man or something.
Were you closer with your mom?
Oh, hi, John.
You That's a different show,
and Netflix ain't payin' for that one.
I thought Baby J was as good a thing
as I'd ever seen anywhere,
and then we go to Biloxi
in a hockey arena.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
And the the new stuff,
I thought was just as good
as what I had seen you previously publish.
He's in Biloxi.
He's been there for an hour,
uh, and he does 15 minutes
about being in Biloxi.
Now, I know enough about the process.
You're not at home six weeks ago,
writing Biloxi material.
-No, I wasn't.
-This is stuff
He takes a tour
through the town of Biloxi.
This is material
he writes on the ground in Biloxi,
does on stage in front
of 3,000 people that night. Amazing.
That's nice of you to say.
[cheering, applause]
[car horn honking]
[man 1] How you doin'?
Thank you, sir.
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois,
the amazing John Mulaney!
[Mulaney] All right, Mississippi.
Never performed
in the state of Mississippi.
This is the first time ever.
Why do I love Biloxi?
Well, it's such a funny place.
A lotta towns have casinos.
You have more casinos
than cities that are famous
for having casinos.
And not a dime of it
Not a dime of it is making its way
into the town.
Jesus Christ.
What are your
Let me see the books!
Let me see the books.
Biloxi lends itself to 15 minutes.
Some towns Some towns,
you don't get 15 minutes out of it,
but Biloxi is a place
where the outside feels haunted.
He's doing this in front of people
presumably who live in Biloxi,
and they loved it.
-They just loved it.
People love to have their city shit on.
It's incredible.
Also, every city thinks
they drink the most.
So you can always open with, like,
"Uh, yeah, I used to get fucked up,
though I don't need to tell you about that
in Youngstown,"
and they're like, "Yes! Yes!"
"Yes, we drink the most!"
[cheering and applause]
[upbeat music. playing]
-[Letterman] Excuse me.
-I'm walking
[Letterman] I was told
to knock on your door.
You really blew the blocking of that.
-How are you?
-How are you, sir? Nice to see you.
I don't even know where to begin.
This is new material.
This is material I'm not familiar with.
This is
an hour plus
Yeah, since
that has not been filmed anywhere
that I've been doing since September.
How many shows have you done of this kind?
It's probably 12 or 13.
All variations or all the same?
There were some bits I tried tonight
'cause they were kinda
-What did you try tonight?
-This This thing about teachers.
That was really shaggy, though. Man!
Do you get nervous? Do you get excited?
Do you have trepidation during the day?
I was nervous tonight
'cause you were at the show.
-But, uh, yes, I get nervous every night.
[Letterman] And the goal for this material
is what,
and how far away are you for that?
This would be for the next special.
I think I'm way far.
I take, like, two and a half years
between specials, sometimes longer.
So you're telling me what I saw tonight
is still not ready to be recorded for
No. I've had dreams where I have
to film this as a Netflix special
and I'm terrified.
I have a a premise
that I thought of in 1970
and tried it and tried it and tried it.
-So, if I share this with you
-This premise?
[chuckles] But feel free
to use this whenever.
[Letterman] Um Here's the premise.
Uh, I would be driving around
in my home state of Indiana,
Indianapolis in particular,
and periodically,
more frequently than one might guess,
I would see, in the middle of the road,
a single shoe.
-Whoa! Really?
-Yeah. It's funny.
'Cause you don't know
what you're about to say.
Well, I never could figure out
I I I then, here's the premise,
thinking, "Greatly universal."
"Oh, Christ, we've all seen
that one shoe in the road."
But nobody, other than you, seem to have.
-So what do I do? What do you do?
Okay, first off, have you seen shoes
in the middle of the road?
-[audience] Yeah.
-[Mulaney] Yeah.
Wait a minute! I've been reborn!
Well, the question would be,
"Why aren't there two shoes?"
Uh Then there's,
"How did it, obviously, get there?"
And you could do a whole long bit
about what would make a guy
throw his shoe out of the car.
And you make some big, absurd situation
that wouldn't normally end
in someone throwing a shoe,
but then you make this big,
almost kitchen-sink-drama fight
he's having with his wife and kids,
and then he goes, "You know what?
"Forget it,"
and he takes off his shoe and throws it."
[whistling, whooping]
Now, I have a joke
that people aren't liking at all,
but I don't know So All right.
When I see a hot-dog-eating contest,
and they're soaking the hot dogs in water
-and then shoving 'em down their throat.
And then going like that.
Honey, that's a lot of things,
but that ain't eating hot dogs.
[Letterman] "Honey." "Honey"!
-[scattered laughter]
To me, eating a hot dog
is eating a hot dog on a dry bun.
-With mustard, relish, whatever you want.
We, here Chicago could
[sarcastically] We could Ha-ha!
debate that for a long time.
But it's not That's not eating hot dogs.
-Call that something else.
-I wanna see a contest of eating
-Actually consuming.
-Actually consuming.
-The way humans do.
Slowly, too. I don't need it to be this
-I don't need it to be this race.
If I'm wat I mean, I said I'd watch
a hot-dog-eating contest.
Why do you think I'm on
this insane schedule to get outta here?
-You know, God bless you.
And good for you and and good for you!
What a fast wrap-up!
Like you're trying
to get me out of confession.
"Well, God bless you
and good for you and good for you."
Anything you wanna include
here before we depart?
Oh man. Um
-Well, I really
-Almost an actual spit take.
I really love doing stand-up comedy.
I The I wanted, from an early age,
to be able to stand onstage at a theater
and do comedy, and I remember
realizing in, like, 2017 in St. Louis
that I was doing just that.
-It was my show. I was in a suit.
Talking to an audience at night.
It was the best.
Yes, but you have been
on record as saying the Sack Lunch Bunch
was maybe your favorite project
in your professional life.
Yeah, are you trying to catch me in a
[Mulaney] discrepancy here?
John, I can't thank you enough.
Dave, I can't thank you enough.
-[cheering and applause]
-[theme music playing]
[Letterman] So you just close the bag
and you're gone, right?
Um Here's the real secret to touring,
is I've got
[man] Sardines!
Yeah, I've got three cans
of King Oscar sardines.
You don't know
what you're gonna encounter out there.
-Not a bad idea.
-[Mulaney] These are in olive oil.
Skinless and boneless.
I used to get those in mustard sauce
when I was in college.
Yeah. Um
I just do olive oil or salt water.
It's a nice life.
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