If there’s one name you likely saw on your social media timelines this week, or perhaps overheard IRL, it’s John Mulaney. I know I’ve thought about the beloved comedian more this week than perhaps any other week in my life, and I (along with what seems like all of the internet) have been thinking: Wow, who knew I was that invested in John Mulaney’s personal life? Mulaney returned to the stage this week for a weeklong set at City Winery in New York titled, “From Scratch,” in which he touches on his recent experience in rehab and recovery. The broader implication of the set, according to Vulture’s Jesse David Fox, is that Mulaney—like all of us—is trying to figure out who he is after the pandemic.
Right now, Mulaney, 38, is a recurring character in the tabloids. That’s remarkable, because Mulaney is a popular comedian with a loyal fanbase—he’s big enough to sell out Radio City Music Hall, host SNL multiple times, and appear on the cover of Esquire—but he’s not on the order of Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld. Yet that seems to be his trajectory. And having your personal life splashed across the pages of the New York Post, an institution Mulaney previously joked about in his 2012 comedy special “New in Town” (“reading the New York Post is like talking to someone who heard the news and now they’re trying to give you the gist”), is part of that ascent. For better or worse.
On December 21, 2020, the Post‘s Page Six first reported that Mulaney had checked himself into rehab for cocaine and alcohol addiction. Then, in late February, Page Six said Mulaney had completed 60 days in a Pennsylvania rehab facility and was continuing his recovery as an outpatient. He was reportedly “doing well.” Mulaney shared details about the roots of his addiction in a 2019 Esquire cover story. Jonah Weiner writes:
Throughout his late teens and early twenties, Mulaney struggled with routine blackouts from his drinking and drug use. “I was like, you’re fucking out of control. And I thought to myself, I don’t like this guy anymore,” Mulaney said at the time. At 23, he went sober, cold-turkey, without the use of a program. Knowing this history, it was good to hear that Mulaney had successfully completed his rehab program.
But there was more news to come about Mulaney.
On Monday, Page Six broke the news that Mulaney and his wife, Anna Marie Tendler, were divorcing after seven years of marriage and parenting their extremely cute French bulldog, Petunia Tendler-Mulaney. Through a spokesperson, Tendler said: “I am heartbroken that John has decided to end our marriage,” adding, “I wish him support and success as he continues his recovery.”
Call it fandom, call it a prime example of parasocial relationships, but many online were gutted to hear about the couple’s divorce. Mulaney is known for his autobiographical comedy, making his fans feel like they know him, and feel personally invested in his life. Then, as if the divorce news wasn’t enough to process, on Thursday, People reported that a “source close to the couple” (aren’t they always) shared that Mulaney is now dating Olivia Munn. It’s a PR rollercoaster aptly summed up by this tweet:
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