John Mulaney says he 'really identified' with Matthew Perry’s addiction journey: 'I’m thinking about him a lot'

Perry was an outspoken advocate for substance abuse treatment, and explored his own struggles in his 2022 memoir, "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing."

A month after Mattew Perry’s unexpected death, John Mulaney is unpacking his personal connection to the late Friends star.

Although the comedic actors never crossed paths, Mulaney told Variety that he was personally affected by Perry’s journey with addiction and road to recovery, especially after reading his 2022 memoir, Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing.

“Addiction is just a disaster,” Mulaney said. “Life is like a wobbly table at a restaurant and you pile all this s--- on it, and it gets wobblier and wobblier and more unstable. Then drugs just kick the f---ing legs out from under the table.”

He added, “I really identified with his story. I’m thinking about him a lot.”

<p>Cindy Ord/Getty Images; Dave Benett/Getty Images</p> John Mulaney and Matthew Perry

Cindy Ord/Getty Images; Dave Benett/Getty Images

John Mulaney and Matthew Perry

Perry, who was found dead in a hot tub at his Pacific Palisades home on Oct. 28, was an outspoken substance abuse treatment advocate throughout his career. In 2013, he turned his former Malibu home into a sober living facility called the Perry House, which ran for two years. He was regularly candid about his addiction struggles and difficult journey to sobriety.

Mulaney has been similarly open about discussing his issues with substance abuse. The subject is prominently featured in his latest comedy special, Baby J, which followed his 2020 relapse, intervention, and stint in rehab. Given those personal developments were heavily reported and scrutinized by fans, the comedian explained that he inevitably felt the need to address them once he returned back on stage.

“Going to rehab and a lot of other things had become public knowledge, and I felt there was no way to start doing stand-up again without going through this,” Mulaney said. “I also had a lot to say about it. It had been an extremely eventful time, and the goal from the beginning was to do this as funny as I could make it — not as impactful as I could make it, not to pause for dramatic effect. I just wanted it to be a little wilder and put you in my very confident, demented brain during the time of addiction.”

As for striking the right tone, Mulaney said he turned to fellow comedians for advice while honing the set.

“I kept asking friends, ‘Do I come off like too much of an a--hole?’” he said. “Jimmy Kimmel saw it at the Troubadour and said, ‘Yes, but you have to keep it all.’”

He continued, “I’ve had bits my entire career where I think, ‘Oh, this is a little dark. I don’t know if people are going to go with this.’”

But despite those fears, Mulaney didn’t doubt his ability to engage with viewers. “For some reason, I attract an audience from 70 years old to 7, and I’m aware of how this is going to play with the great big group that I’m very lucky to have assembled. I just knew that this vein would be interesting to people.”

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