John Mulaney Isn’t Your Friend

Let’s stop pretending we have a connection with celebrities beyond the transactional.

David Fox
4 min readSep 8, 2021
Photo by Kane Reinholdtsen on Unsplash

I like John Mulaney. Although I should probably rephrase that: I like John Mulaney’s comedy. I like his persona, I like the version of himself he presents at the microphone. Because I don’t know John Mulaney the real person. The same goes for most of his fans. He’s someone we see at a distance at a comedy show, on TV or online. He’s not our friend.

And yet, paying attention to the online discourse around what’s been a heck of a year for the guy — a stint writing for Late Night, rehab, a divorce, a new relationship with actress Olivia Munn and now a child on the way — a lot of his fans seem to feel like they do know him. And they feel free to judge his decisions and, in some cases, feel betrayed by them.

(If you think I’m exagerrating, seach his name on Twitter. You’ll find plenty of backlash for “betraying” his “wholesome image”. And also, because it’s Twitter, plenty of backlash to that backlash.)

Mulaney mined his marriage for jokes, many of them making clear how much he loved his wife. It might be understandable for fans who had invested in his on-stage persona to be shocked by a divorce and a new relationship.