Starring and written by John Mulaney, and directed by Alex Timbers. John Mulaney, like many of us, had an eventful past few years. I was curious how he would approach this comedy special, how honest he was willing to get, and if he would go in on all of the headlines and take them into his own hands. While watching, I was surprised but also relieved in the best way.

The Comedic Essence

It’s rare I watch something, whether it be a TV show, movie, or YouTube video, and literally laugh out loud. I was surprised when this comedy special nearly made me spit out my drink and choke on my food. John has a knack for being so honest about some of the worst aspects of humankind and making it into a funny joke, and the fact that these jokes are so relatable makes them even more hilarious.

The standup act touched on his addiction and he was quick to make fun of himself while also making it clear that he was not advocating for anyone to follow in his footsteps. I like how he did this subtly and not punchy in your face. I think the special makes it clear how drug use can take over someone’s life without them even realizing it and how stern measures might be necessary to create lasting, positive change. Yet he never explicitly says any of this. He just tells his stories, is funny, and the message seeps in that way, which I much prefer to swallowing a pill the size of an elephant.

One of my favorite aspects of this special is how John speaks to the audience as if they are his friends, including kindly pointing out the one 4th grader whom he tells directly to not do anything he is about to talk about. He recounts stories like we are all around a campfire and he’s catching us up on his life. Nothing feels off limits as he delves into the embarrassing depths of his human mind. It’s all too relatable, even if you’ve never been into drugs like Mulaney has. (And never bought a Rolex just to sell it for half the price an hour later just to get the cash.)

Honorable Mentions

So many of John’s stories had me cracking up, but one that I found particularly funny is the Al Pacino phone call situation. I like how John never explained anything to the rehab nurse and just let her think whatever she wanted about his friendship with Al. He likely had no patience for explaining at this point in his recovery, but I, on the other hand, have a habit of over-explaining. Recently, I have been learning the power of letting people think what they want and keeping the explanation to myself. In the end, the nurse probably thought the phone call was much cooler than it actually was, so let her think that, it’s funnier that way after all. John even said, “The conversation the nurse thinks we were having, delights me to this day.”

Deep into the special, near the ending, John reads an interview he gave a few days before his intervention. I found this smart. By doing this, he was taking control of the narrative, not giving into the headlines that likely changed his public perception, and likely effected his career at least temporarily. He grabs his past and beholds it, like that baboon and Simba in Lion King. He acknowledged that it does exist, it did happen, but that’s not where it ends. He is more than that and can laugh at the situation because he did the work to get better. Smart, Asian American woman: John Mulaney (reference to his last stand-up special).

from Netflix on YouTube

My Favorite Quotes

“I am cocaine skinny with a new hair cut. They’ve all been in heavy quarantine for 9 months…I was the best looking person at my intervention by a mile.”

When deleting bad influences from his phone in rehab, he came across a person that “To this day, I have no idea how I know this person. So I text him back, “How did it come to be?”

When talking about Pete Davidson, John said, “Some people suggested that we did drugs together. Because he has tattoos and I am plain. *pause for dramatic effect* We must be up to witchcraft.” His delivery of this line (no pun intended) had me going. Referring to himself as “plain” is great.

After going through rehab and working through his past, he realized that he “used to care what everyone thought about me so much, it was all I cared about… and I don’t anymore. And I don’t because I can honestly say: what is someone going to do to me that is worse than what I would do to myself?”

Rating: 8.5 out of 10.

My Rating: 8.5/10

John finds a way to be honest about hard moments, make fun of himself, but still not berate who he is. It is clear that he is proud of “making it out the other side” and is comfortable with sharing some peculiar situations that took place along the way. He’s laughing at himself and giving us permission to do the same. By doing this, I found it encouraging to continue laughing at myself and using that laughter to get through the hard stuff. Sitting in misery only works for so long and then you get sick of it. I will be coming back to this special when I need a reliable laugh that will get me out of a rut. (I’ve watched it twice already.)

This special beautifully showcases the power of comedy, storytelling, and its ability to heal.

Sentence Summary

When life takes a turn for Mr. John Mulaney, he turns a rehab stay and an intervention into a comedy special that will make you laugh at its relatability, even if you’ve never done drugs, had an intervention, or been to rehab.

Where you can watch it:

You can watch this comedy special on Netflix.


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