When writer and stand-up comedian John Mulaney performs 14 shows at the Kimmel Cultural Campus’ Academy of Music starting this week, he’s not just making history with a record-setting residency at the venerable Philadelphia theater—he’s making a comeback.
With his brand new “From Scratch” tour and all that it recounts, Mulaney is happily out of rehab after having broken the cycle of addiction that gripped him after his Halloween 2020 hosting appearance on Saturday Night Live.
To the uninitiated, the dryly witty, frankly self-deprecating and unusually apolitical comic got his start as a writer on SNL only to find himself roaming stand-up stages with bits from his three cable televised specials: New in Town (2012), The Comeback Kid (2015) and, most famously Kid Gorgeous (2018), the latter showcase his crowning achievement in the same way Chris Rock’s 1996 Bring the Pain changed his game.
During a 2019 interview with Esquire magazine that signals his blasé feelings toward political topicality (“We’re not congressmen. We’re court jesters”) and his obsession with Jerry Seinfeld, Mulaney was quoted as saying that he was never funnier, as far as he’s concerned, than when he gets “exasperated about things you shouldn’t get that upset about.”
That’s the joy of John Mulaney – though intense and laser focused, his comedy has a lived-in, laid-back quality that is both racing and as relaxed as one of your own thought bubbles.
During this same period, the clean cut, suit-and-tie wearing comedian, Mulaney also became famous for his work with fellow comic Nick Kroll for their ‘Oh, Hello’ theatrical duet on Broadway as well as the animated comedy ‘Big Mouth.’ He filmed a bit part for the most recent Spider Man flick, ‘Into the Spider-Verse.’ Mulaney also co-wrote and produced the spot-on IFC Network Documentary Now series with SNL friends Bill Hader, Fred Armisen and Seth Myers, where they calculatingly lampooned some of the most famous, historical documentaries of our time, as well as writing and starring in his own Netflix children’s comedy special, ‘John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch’ with David Byrne and Jake Gyllenhaal.
By the time we get to 2020 and 2021, we get a Mulaney dealing with his drug demons, going quietly through a divorce, coming successfully out of rehabilitation and starting a relationship with actor Olivia Munn with whom he is now expecting their first child. During his first (and so far only) interview, during an early September 2021 episode of ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers,’ Mulaney recounts the intervention staged by comedy friends such as Meyers, Kroll, Hader and Armisen with this story.
“I needed to be the smartest person in the room, even at the intervention… So I remember saying to all of you, ‘Before you all read your letter, I have a drug problem and I need help.’ Just to scoop you… It was like a We Are the World of alternative comedians over the age of 40. So many funny people and no one did bits the entire time.”
For his first tour since 2018, Mulaney – from previous tour reports – will discuss in honest detail his intervention and stint in rehab across the Academy of Music’s 14 shows, as well as play tattletale about other comedian friends such as Pete Davidson, who apparently changes his phone number every month with Mulaney saving those numbers under celebrity pseudonyms such as Al Pacino. (The Vanderbilt Hustler wrote that the joke goes something like this: “After I had finally been given medicine to fall asleep because I had been awake for multiple days and was being difficult, my nurse woke me up because she saw my phone ringing with five missed calls from Oscar-winner Al Pacino.”)
As for booking the Emmy Award-winning stand-up comedian and writer into a record-setting 14 performances at the Academy of Music at the Kimmel Cultural Campus, Geoff Gordon, Regional President of Live Nation, says “Philadelphia absolutely loves John Mulaney. With numerous Netflix appearances and his work on Saturday Night Live, people across the Philadelphia region are showing their love for John and getting tickets for this record-setting engagement.
“It’s going to be an incredible run for John and the City of Philadelphia.”