John Mulaney was never much of an outdoorsman. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"Outside stuff? Never cared," the comedian quipped on the May 1 episode of Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend. "Let alone nature, I was not a backyard guy. I'm an indoorsman."
But that was before he spent serious time contemplating the great outdoors with a baby.
"You know when you watch a movie with someone who hasn't seen the movie before?" Mulaney, who welcomed son Malcolm with Olivia Munn on Nov. 24, explained to Conan O'Brien. "That's what it feels like with Malcolm. When I'm out with him, I'm like, 'Oh, the world's great,' cause I'm seeing it through his eyes. And he's looking up, like, 'Trees and s--t!' Malcolm will lay on his back on a blanket in the backyard and just kick his arms and legs squealing 'cause he sees the trees in the sky."
"He's my son and I love him so much," the Oh, Hello star continued, "but also, I'm just fascinated by him. I love watching him see the world, and seeing what sounds, images, lights, volume levels make him laugh—and then times where he gives these looks, like, 'Jesus.' Not crying, but just like, 'Can you not?'"
Signature self-deprecation aside, Mulaney has had a transformative year, personally and professionally.
This summer his From Scratch tour has touched down all over the U.S., including the Hollywood Bowl and three straight sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden.
"Thank god cocaine and arenas didn't overlap," Mulaney cracked on the July 16 episode of Dana Carvey and David Spade's Fly on the Wall podcast (recorded in May). "Oh dear god, I'm just realizing now, that would have been a disaster!"
It was only in September 2020 that the former Saturday Night Live star—who'd talked (and joked) openly about his past drug and alcohol use, telling Esquire in 2019 that he'd been sober since 2005—checked into rehab for a month, but then relapsed with drugs in November 2020. Mulaney has since shared that his downward spiral prompted longtime pal Seth Meyers and other loved ones to hold an intervention and usher him back into treatment that December.
"I've had a lot of anxiety in life, so some of the chemicals that help that are very addictive," Mulaney mused to Carvey and Spade. "I do think addiction is a disease and I think I have this 'Oh, let's do more, let's do more!'—something in my brain does that...But it wasn't a story of someone who was always going to self-destruct. Life just became hard."
He left rehab in February 2021 after 60 days and then stayed in a sober living facility for another 30. Also that spring, he confirmed the end of his six-year marriage to Anna Marie Tendler and started dating Munn, telling Meyers in his first post-treatment Late Night appearance last September, "She got to date me right out of recovery, which is what they call a reverse catch."
Mulaney ventured back on stage in May 2021, having been doubtful of his capability to manage his own life, let alone unsure if he'd ever do standup again. But the audience was there, clamoring to hear material that one reviewer described as "'open and vulnerable and dark,'" Mulaney recalled to O'Brien. "And I thought, Well, I was literally just institutionalized."
His mother was concerned that performing so soon was too stressful, but he told her, "'This is one of the greatest times of my life and this is the best thing for me.' It's so fun...I don't know if right now it's cathartic so much as it's just a joy to be out."
And, he added, "It's so nice, after everyone—not just myself—had a very challenging couple of years" that people are coming to see him.
Heading out on a cross-country-and-beyond tour and caring for a baby who prefers to stare up at the sky and clench his fists might seem to be at cross purposes, but his young family hit the road with him.
"Home is wherever we are together," he told Carvey and Spade.
On Late Night With Seth Meyers in June, the host showed off a photo of Mulaney carrying his son at the airport, the baby wearing sunglasses, noise-canceling headphones and a what's-going-on expression. "This actually looks like a body-switching movie, me in 2020 went into the body of a baby," the comedian joked. "This is tricking a star to go to rehab."
But he's "a great, great roadie," Mulaney said of his then-7-month-old, who also made an appearance at 30 Rock when his dad hosted Saturday Night Live for the fifth time. "Malcolm loves being on tour—he loved Saratoga Springs, he loved the Westin in Buffalo—they had one of those fake fireplaces with glowing rocks, he sits down, 'This is what I'm talking about.'"
Asked if the storied baby formula shortage was affecting them at all, Mulaney joked that when Munn went to Target and was only allowed to buy four cans of Enfamil at a time, "All my old drug-buying instincts kicked in: 'So you're saying we need to trick a pharmacy?'" Then, he added, skeptical that the haul they ordered from Amazon was the real stuff, he "cut the bag open, dipped my finger in it and [tasting it] went, 'Yeah, that's real Enfamil…this feels good.'"
Now 9 months old, Malcolm is teething, as Munn shared Aug. 22 on Instagram, promising her friends she'd rejoin the land of the living once they'd had a breakthrough.
"This will also serve as a group text to anyone I haven't texted back," the Tales of the Walking Dead star captioned a video of herself waiting out her "teething tunnel nightmare"—one of a number of candid postpartum posts Munn has shared with her 2.8 million followers. "Will get back to you in however long it takes for this tooth to come out."
Munn and Mulaney have each shared a handful of baby pics on their respective pages, but neither is under any illusions about the dark side of Instagramming-while-parenting.
"I've always wanted to put as a caption," Mulaney said on Fly on the Wall, "'If anyone has any parenting thoughts, please leave them in the comments. I'm about to give my 6-month-old a bunch of pork sausage and dairy, if anyone has any thoughts!'"
But regardless of any unsolicited advice they might get, both Mommy and Daddy have sung the praises of Malcolm's social skills, his epic curiosity and his capacity to just chill on the sofa for a good binge-watch.
"He loves meeting people, he loves his best friend Penny and thinks she's hysterical, he's tried peanut butter," Munn detailed in a May 24 post, "he sleeps through the night 12 hours straight...he wakes up from every nap with a huge smile and giggle, he LOVES when we read him books, he lets out a squeal and kicks his legs whenever his daddy comes home, I can't stress enough how much he loves bathtime and he loves being outside and looking at the trees and the sky."
And once Malcolm could hold his own head up, Mulaney told O'Brien, he had someone to watch Bosch with. "He's a great hang," the comic gushed. "I can prop him up on the couch now, 'cause his neck is strong...I just propped him up next to me and it was like he was watching Bosch."
But really, any time spent with Malcolm is the best time.
"If he's good," Mulaney said, "I'm good.'"