John Mulaney has had quite a year. If you haven’t been paying attention to the tabloids, the red-hot comedian wrapped up last summer by checking into rehab, ending his seven-year marriage to Anna Marie Tendler and starting a new relationship with Olivia Munn, who is now expecting their first child. Any one of those events would provide tabloids with months of fodder, and all of these stories in succession hit Mulaney’s legions of fans particularly hard. As a stand-up comedian, writer and actor, Mulaney had cultivated a parasocial relationship with the public that felt personal even though it obviously, undeniably was not. Many of Mulaney’s fans went online with posts about Mulaney’s situation that seemed to take personal umbrage with his divorce, his relapse into drugs or his new relationship. Not exactly the marker of a healthy relationship with celebrity.
So what does Mulaney owe the public? Nothing. His life is his own business. But seeing as his name has been a fairly frequent trending topic on Twitter over the last year, he decided to sit down with his longtime pal Seth Meyers to open up about the last 12 months. The result is one of the most bracing and vulnerable conversations on late night TV in recent memory. The two talked about parenthood and drugs, with Mulaney officially confirming Munn’s pregnancy rumors, but the most insightful conversation was around the intervention that sparked rehab.
As it turns out, Meyers was one of several people who staged Mulaney’s intervention, and the two recount the harrowing experience with a lot of raw honesty. Mulaney openly admits to not handling it well, and Meyers is frank about his own discomfort as well. These are two very funny men so, of course, there are a lot funny moments in here, but the humor is never used as a defensive mechanism. Instead, the jokes delve even deeper into Mulaney’s own struggles with addiction and concern of his friends.
Mulaney laughs at his own defensiveness now, but it’s clear the moment unwelcome at the time. At one point, Meyers tries to express his read of Mulaney’s attitude during the intervention and Mulaney admits that Meyers was “doing a kind version of how I came off, I think.”
“It was awful,” Meyers acknowledges. “You do those things because you’re really worried about your friend.”
In the middle of the conversation, they briefly stop to relate a very funny story about Mulaney being late to the intervention because he had, in a moment of cocaine-fueled inspiration, decided to stop by his old offices at Saturday Night Live for a free haircut.
The conversation ends with a genuinely touching moment between the two old friends, with Mulaney thank Meyers for the intervention.
“I’m very happy to be your friend and very happy to be in your presence,” Meyers says. “This year I was lucky to spend a lot of time with you. It was a real roller coaster. But I’m very happy you’re on the other side of it. I’m so happy for you and Olivia. This is very exciting news. I love you very much and I’m glad you’re doing well.”
“I love you, Seth,” Mulaney responds. “You guys saved me from drugs. Olivia and this baby have helped save me from myself and this early journey out of recovery. I don’t have a joke for that. I’m really grateful for you, buddy.”
Again, Mulaney and Meyers don’t owe this conversation to anyone. But two men expressing their love and appreciation for each other is a rarity, in life and on TV. More people could use a friend like Meyers, willing to enter into tough conversations about important issues in the hope of getting their friend some help. If a late night bit can help normalize than, even just a little, who knows how many lives could be saved?