In his new Netflix special, the comedian talks about his drug use, rehab and more.
John Mulaney is opening up about the intervention that saved his life.
In his new Netflix comedy special, John Mulaney: Baby J, Mulaney got candid about the changes in his life over the last few years, including a stint in rehab and the intervention with his famous friends that got him there.
Mulaney admitted that he was addicted to a cocktail of drugs, and was heavily using cocaine when a group of 12 friends in the comedy community gathered together in person in New York and over Zoom, under the guise of "dinner with a friend from college," to encourage him to enter rehab.
Calling it the "'We Are the World'" of alternative comedians over 40," Mulaney said everyone from Fred Armisen to Nick Kroll were on hand to voice their concern over Mulaney's well-being.
In addition to Armisen and Kroll, he said Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, and Natasha Lyonne were at the intervention.
"Let me just call this out now, I don't mean to be weird. It was a star-studded intervention. It was, like, a good group," Mulaney told the sold-out crowd. "It was a good group. As mad as I was when I walked in there, I was like, this is a good lineup, this is really flattering in its own way."
He continued, "It was like a 'We Are the World' of alternative comedians over the age of 40. All comedians. Yet no one said a funny thing the entire night."
The 40-year-old funnyman said that before he arrived, the group had promised to not to crack jokes or do bits to hammer home the severity of the situation.
"I was going psychotic. I am sitting there in an awful chair, crashing from cocaine," Mulaney recalled. "No one will let me go to the bathroom to freshen up and the funniest people are staring at me, refusing to do jokes. It was maddening."
"Fred Armisen was serious," he added. "Do you know how off-putting that is?" He didn't do a character or a voice. He was just like, 'Hey, John, I'm really worried about everything you're going through.' And I was like, 'Ah, next! Next!'"
Mulaney said he was fuming over the fact that some of his closest friends played this "prank" on him.
"I was so mad that night. They had tricked me. I mean, at its core, an intervention is a prank. They had pranked me. They were trying to tell me what to do with my life, they were trying to control me. They were sending me away to rehab for months. I felt powerless. I felt very angry."
But ultimately, looking back, the new dad said he's grateful that he's where he is now, able to perform one again.
"Getting to do this show, and standing here, listen, I am grateful to everyone at my intervention. They intervened. They confronted me and they totally saved my life," he said.
Mulaney did end up going to rehab, and spent two months there, exiting the facility in February 2021.
He detailed some of the experience, much of which took place at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. While he was apprehensive, Mulaney said his biggest fear was that everyone in the facility would recognize him -- something he thought would negatively impact his time there.
"When I first got to rehab, one of my biggest fears was that everyone was going to recognize me," Mulaney said. "Gradually, a new fear took over. I'm not like exaggerating to be funny. F**king no one... no one knew who I was, and it was driving me bananas."
Mulaney revealed that he even went so far as to leave out a newspaper detailing the news of his rehab stay for other patients to catch a glimpse of.
"Please don't repeat this. It was in the newspaper that I was in rehab, and I left it out," he quipped.
Before he realized that no one knew who he was, Mulaney went in with the approach that he was going to be modest and leave his fame at the door. What he found was a humbling experience -- but one that transformed him nonetheless, with the comedian exiting the facility with a newfound sobriety journey and friends he still has to this day.
Mulaney would go on to see even more changes in his life during this time -- a divorce from wife Anne Marie Tendler that was finalized in January 2022, and a romance with Olivia Munn, which would result in the comedian welcoming his first child, Malcolm, 1.
While he didn't divulge the details of their romance, he did touch on life as a new dad and a recovering drug addict.
"It's weird to be a recovering drug addict. It was weird to be a drug addict, but at least I was on drugs," Mulaney joked. "It's strange, sometimes. Like, I'm doing great, but when I'm alone, I'm with the person that tried to kill me."
He continued, "That is kind of a creepy feeling sometimes, but it's also a nice feeling. It gives me a strange kind of confidence, sometimes. 'Cause like, look. I used to care what everyone thought of me, so much. It was all I cared about. All I cared about was what other people thought of me. And I don't anymore. And I don't because, I can honestly say, 'What is someone gonna do to me that's worse than I would do to myself?'"
Sharing an anecdote about Malcolm, Mulaney remarked on how things had come full circle when he was tasked with changing the then 9-month-old on his own for the first time and was confronted with the very changing tables he used to snort drugs off of.
"I'd never been out with him and had to change a diaper alone in public before," Mulaney recalled. "So, I went up to the museum docent and I said, 'Is there anywhere I can change my baby?' and she goes, 'Yeah, the men's room would be fine.'"
"And I push him in the men's room. And I walk in there, and I look on the wall," he continued, to laughter and applause from the crowd who remembered his cracks about Koala changing stations earlier in the night. "'Hello, old friend.'"
John Mulaney: Baby J is streaming now on Netflix.