Massachusetts Daily Collegian

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A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

He’s back from rehab: A review of John Mulaney’s ‘Baby J’

Netflix’s new special is the tell-all to John Mulaney’s life in 2020
Courtesy of IMDb

In December 2020, John Mulaney checked himself into a rehabilitation center for alcoholism, cocaine addiction and prescription drug abuse. After attending rehab, going through a very public divorce and having a baby, Mulaney has finally returned to the stage.

Mulaney started his career in 2008 as a writer on “Saturday Night Live.” Mulaney wrote for four years and has hosted “SNL” five times. He has been a standup comedian for 21 years. Some of his most well-known comedy specials are “New in Town” and “Kid Gorgeous.”

The special “John Mulaney ‘Baby J’” starts differently than his past performances and was filmed at Symphony Hall in Boston. Instead of the silly introduction that can be seen in past specials, such as “New in Town,” it opens with him onstage talking about his incessant need of attention.

He ties this need for attention to his first joke about what he was like as a child. It’s quite a wild opening, as he begins speaking about hoping his grandparents would die – so he could gain the attention of his classmates and teacher.

Mulaney then approaches the topic that everyone in the audience has been dying to know: what happened that led him to rehab.

To begin his routine, he mentions his “star-studded” intervention that not only consisted of friends and family, but comedians such as Seth Meyers, Nick Kroll and Fred Armisen. He mentions his self-destructive behavior during the intervention, as well as being two hours late to it. He talks about his alcohol usage from the time he was a kid and the desperate measures he took to get drugs.

“Baby J” tells all about the struggles he faced throughout the past few years and how he recovered from the dark place he was in. Mulaney states that he is currently sober and is in a much better place currently.

He recalls being angry at his friends for even holding an intervention for him. Later, he tells the audience that his friends truly did save his life that day. He spoke about sneaking drugs into rehab and then acting surprised that they were there when he got caught.

Perhaps the most memorable and funniest story of the special is connected to another “SNL” alum, Pete Davidson.

According to Mulaney, Pete Davidson gets a new phone number and Mulaney set Davidson’s contact to “Al Pacino.” As he was sleeping, Davidson called Mulaney so many times that the nurse had to wake him up and to tell him “Al Pacino” was calling him.

Throughout the special, Mulaney examines his past actions. Mulaney begins to reintroduce himself after his relapse and that he is doing better. There is no mention of his new relationship with actress Olivia Munn or his new child.

“Baby J” has had an exceptional critical reception, earning an 86 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

There was a sense of seriousness throughout the special, which is rare to see in Mulaney’s comedy, but was needed. Substance abuse is a very complex topic and viewers could sense the appreciation that Mulaney truly has for everyone who helped him through his rough patch.

Sydney Warren can be reached at [email protected]

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    pickjaneMay 23, 2023 at 11:13 am

    He did mention his son, Malcolm at the very end of the show. He was in a museum with the infant and had to change his diaper. He encountered his old friend, “the baby changing fold-out station, Koala” in the restroom. He used to snort cocaine off those things! He did not, however, mention Olivia Munn.