John Mulaney has seen his share of struggle over the past couple of years, with a return to rehab in December 2020 after 15 years of sobriety, and a divorce from his wife of six years Anna Marie Tendler confirmed in May 2021. One light at the end of the tunnel? Mulaney, 39, and his new partner, actress Olivia Munn, 41, welcomed baby Malcolm in November 2021 — and the little one is inspiring his dad to take a new look at life.
In the May 2 episode of the podcast Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend, Mulaney opened up to fellow comedian O’Brien about the ways that fatherhood is changing him.
Mulaney described seeing the world anew as his son explores it for the first time.
“You know when you watch a movie with someone who hasn’t seen the movie before? That’s what it feels like with Malcolm,” he says. “Like, when I’m out with him, I’m like, ‘Oh, the world’s great,’ because I’m seeing it sort of through his eyes.”
Mulaney nails the surreal feeling of watching a baby marvel at the mundane. “Malcolm will lay on his back on a blanket in the backyard and just like kick his arms and legs squealing because he sees trees and the sky. And I never cared about any of that sh*t. Outside stuff? Never cared. I really didn’t.”
“I was not a back yard guy,” Mulaney added, with his inimitably self-deprecating humor. “I’m an indoorsman.”
Ever aware of his audience, Mulaney described studying his son’s reactions. “I love him so much but also I’m just — I’m fascinated by him. I love watching him see the world. And seeing what sounds, images, lights, volume levels make him laugh.”
Malcolm also reportedly has, “Can you not?” and “Take it easy, dingbat,” looks for his famous dad.
Mulaney also shared that Malcolm’s neck strength allows him to “prop him up on the couch” to watch TV together, and that — right on developmental cue — Malcolm is “learning he has hands.”
And Mulaney has lost none of his signature humor.
Working “little pudgy-*ss hands that look like quiche,” Mulaney compares his infant to “a shifty guy lying on the stand.”
He recalled, “One time I walked in the room and . . . he banged them together . . . I wondered if I could train him to do that every time I entered the room.”
While he’s happy to be back on stage after the height of the pandemic and his personal struggles, fatherhood, Mulaney explained, has changed his perspective. “I still am ambitious and I still want to do things,” he told O’Brien. “That’s still there, but it’s like, if he’s good, I’m good.”
The two comedians riffed on Saturday Night Live monologues, Frank Sinatra, Bugs Bunny, and the Muppets — including a NSFW joke about Cookie Monster that you won’t be able to un-hear.
If you want to listen to more of Mulaney in a kid-friendly context, you can watch the new Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers animated movie, which features Mulaney as a voice actor. It streams on Disney+ starting on May 20.