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John Mulaney: Baby J


‘…self-destructive drug use is no laughing matter, but John Mulaney’s stand-up ably shows the funny side of addiction; just don’t try this at home unless you’re super-rich….’

John Mulaney has risen to the top several times right now, but it seems to be the comic himself who drags himself away from the brink of lasting success. The reason for this is drugs and addiction, with his penchant for the devil’s dandruff cocaine the cause of car crash television as his appearance on the Seth Meyers show. Wearing a trench-coat and dark glasses like some kind of Inspector Gadget cosplay, Mulaney’s banal, un-crafted ramblings took him from hero to zero in seconds. Such bad behaviour amongst the rich and famous doesn’t go unnoticed, and Mulaney’s on-screen stupor led directly to an intervention, and rehab, and then a return to Saturday Night Live to discuss the detour taken on his colourful journey to sobriety.

That monologue has been predictably developed for the kind of Netflix comedy special that seems to be the 2023 equivalent of the guilty publically flagellating themselves, and offers the kind of narrow, personal focus that Mulaney and his pal Pete Davidson seem to crave in 2023. Opening with some jazzy bespoke credits and a song from David Byrne, Baby J finds Mulaney in reflective mode; he’s been told that rival Bo Burnham is now the white-collar comic de jour on account of being ‘less problematic’. Mulaney has only himself to blame, and does so with a mixture of pride and resignation about his own foibles; he fastens onto a youngster in the audience as Boston’s Symphany Hall, giving Mulaney the opportunity to explain his drug problems as if he was talking to a child.

‘I was the best looking person at my intervention,’ is Mulaney’s boast, and he sets the mood by talking about his desire for attention as a child; special treatment for a grandparent’s death allowed his classmates to sit in a special chair at school, something Mulaney envied to some degree. But requiring an intervention isn’t the kind of attention to be proud of, even if it was a star-studded affair, and Mulaney’s story is very much an accusation of himself, even saving a chaotic interview (with GQ magazine) for the finale as conclusive proof of his own narcotic derangement.

Class A drugs tend to give you the wrong energy for most situations, and Mulaney has anecdotal evidence to spare; he learns about the dangers of ‘mixing metals’ when he tries to buy a Rolex to sell for quick drug cash. Similarly, his rehab nurse thinking Mulaney has a phone call from Al Pacino turns out to be an accidental Pete Davidson prank, as cruel as his reflections on the promises of equine therapy ‘If I can lift a hoof, it must mean I’m ready to have my own apartment…’ Baby J is bookended by Mulaney’s thoughts on a humble restroom item; the public baby changing station, ‘a mousetrap of a device’ he notes. Once the salvation of the itinerant coke-snorter, Mulaney recognises that as a freshly-inducted parent these days, he’ll have to find a more conventional use for rest-room furniture. Self-destructive drug use is no laughing matter, but John Mulaney’s stand-up ably shows the funny side of addiction; just don’t try this at home unless you’re super, super-rich.


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  1. No can do. Addictions are serious things and to use them as a narcissistic device to get more attention just smacks of another cycle waiting to happen.

    • That is a great point, and I fear that this can potentially trivialize drug issues and rehab. Ordinary people don’t have these luxuries.

      • We’re dealing with a huge crisis here in the States with mental sickness. There’s not enough places to help people, so they get turned out into the streets. And then it escalates to violent crime and then they’re in the already overloaded prison system and nothing good comes from it.

        Don’t mean to rain on your parade here, but people like this guy just grind my gears.

        • This is very much my experience of the US, particularly since 2008. Total lack of mental health provision if there’s no financial gain involved. And the results are awful. I do think that there should not be stigma attached to admitting mental health problems, but the likes of Mulaney could do more than just boast about how they escaped the consequences of their own actions…

  2. Never heard of him before this and was happy with that. I have no time for self indulgent idiots with too much money and not enough brain cells to use it wisely. Nope.

    • Tough, but you have a point. Mulaney has a dozen safety nets that any other addiction doesn’t have.

  3. Well, he’s funnier than Pete Davidson I’ll give him that. I wouldn’t watch this though. Just listen to the best jokes on YouTube shorts.

    • Unfortunately, a lot of this material was previously aired, but the new stuff is cut from the same cloth. Can’t imagine what he has in common with Pete. Why conics do you like? Harry Lauder? Jack Benny?

      • For some reason Jimmy Carr and Anthony Jeselnik come up a lot as recommendations for me, and they can both be pretty funny. I liked Mitch Hedberg’s stuff. A lot of the big names I can’t get into, people like Burr and Chapelle and Louis C.K.

        • Jimmy Carr is seen as a complete wallpaper here. I wouldn’t be covering Mulaney if I didn’t think he was good, but I’d like to see comics actually tackle subjects rather than their own celebrity.

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