Jan 24, 2020
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How John Mulaney, Comedian, Spends His Sundays

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You would think that with his Netflix children’s special, “John Mulaney & The Sack Lunch Bunch,” an irreverent (and surprisingly dark) variety show featuring a band of singing and dancing 8- to 13-year-olds, John Mulaney would be a dad. But his one offspring-like family member is a French bulldog named Petunia, and he spends much of the weekend catering to her whims. Petunia even has her own room in the West Village apartment where the comedian, 37, lives with his wife, Annamarie Tendler Mulaney, 34, who makes Victorian lampshades.

FLAPS I wake up always about 8 a.m. You can make your iPhone alarm be a song, and I thought this beautiful Daniel Hope version of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” would make every morning really nice. But now that it’s the thing I wake up to, I can’t stand it.

I go wake up Petunia, who sleeps in the guest room. My wife Skypes with her trainer in the living room on Sunday. So I clear out of there and take Petunia outside, normally in this Wigens hat I bought at a haberdashery while on tour in Denver. Basically a black baseball cap with flaps to cover your ears. I love this hat in the winter. No one in my life likes this hat.

PLEASING PETUNIA I want to go north toward Starbucks; Petunia wants to go south, toward the hospital with a ramp she likes to pee on. I normally capitulate. Then I’ll pick her up and take her into Starbucks, pretending I don’t know you can’t do that. It works if I come in looking distressed, as if I understand nothing about society.

IN CHARGE I get a grande coffee with two ice cubes, then take Petunia back outside and put her down on the ground. She’ll pull me almost all the way west toward the art galleries and that dumb Barry Diller building. The glass thing. Then she’ll just stop – like a car that’s run out of gas. Passers-by are like, “Awww, she’s cold!” And I’m like, “This was her idea.”

THE WAVE At like 9 a.m., Anna and I go have breakfast at Waverly Diner (or the Wave, as we call it). This diner has been there for I think a billion years. We have eggs and hash browns; we split an order of pancakes.

TRUCKIN’ My therapist can do Sundays, so I walk to her. It’s close enough to the apartment, and I like passing by Bed Bath & Beyond, the Container Store, and this weird weed truck that’s always parked on Sixth Avenue. I know weed isn’t legal so they must just be selling CBD. But they have like weed on the truck? I don’t know what’s happening, but it’s there a lot.

ISSUES I realize I’m late and sprint to my therapist’s and tell her I’m so sorry and explain what happened, even though what happened was I left without enough time. So we talk about that for a while. I’ve had a variety of therapists evaluating me for years. A lot of it is that I need self-esteem beyond being a comedian, a sense of self that isn’t just that people laugh when I’m onstage. The other Sunday, for the first time ever, my therapist said, “I watched one of your specials.” And I got so nervous. Normally once we get past the apologies and the polite front with which I greet the world, time’s up.

PRIME So then I walk to Whole Foods to buy something for dinner. But, ugh, I’m going to say it: it’s been bananas since Amazon bought Whole Foods. And I don’t mean organic bananas. You walk in and it’s like: “Are you a Prime member? Do you want this awful fish?” They don’t even say where the fish is from anymore. They used to be like, “Sourced from the Baltic Sea.” Now it’s just like: “Fish. Are you a Prime member?”

GET OUT But they do have a lip balm I like called Mongo Kiss (banana flavor) that doesn’t make my lips too shiny. So I’ll buy that, then I’ll walk down to Chelsea Market. Everyone in there is moving around with that frantic energy like you see in movies where a mother can’t find her child. Signs point to restaurants with all sorts of great food, but every part of your body is telling you to get out of there. So I push through and arrive at The Lobster Place, where I buy wild-caught fish.

URBAN WOOD Then I remember I’m also supposed to get firewood because we have a fireplace in our apartment. There’s a bodega at Sixth and Ninth called World Market. Bodegas often have grandiose names, but it’s the same peanut butter on a high shelf. World Market has mesh bags of logs affixed with nonsturdy tape handles.

CANDY FIX I did a tour with Pete Davidson. He had Sour Patch Kids in his rider; I had kale, blueberries, almond butter, a blender to make smoothies — he had a much better rider. So I’ve started eating Sour Patch Kids, which are becoming a problem. They’re these little guys — well, I guess they’re kids. And they’re caked in sharp sugar and rip your tongue up — you feel just terrible after you eat them. In the bodega, I kind of try to act like they’re for like, my child. I go, “Oh…what did he want? Oh, yeah, could I get a bag of Sour Patch Kids?” I eat them in the elevator so my wife doesn’t see.

PERSEVERANCE Anna and I make dinner. One recent Sunday we got the fire going and watched “The Irishman,” which is about Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and Al Pacino having fun making a movie. And they use the smoothing to make the faces look young, and it’s like five hours long. But we finished it.

PURPLE HAZE By this point it’s well after midnight. I throw treats into the guest room to lure Petunia in there, then close the door. She always gives me a look like, “You bastard.” Then I go to bed in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, forgetting that all the heat in our building rises up and I’ll be thrashing and tearing layers off throughout the night. I drink a bunch of this stuff called ZzzQuil, which is purple and not NyQuil. You know, I’ve tried every single thing that makes you sleep and never have a hangover from ZzzQuil. I drink it until I pass out.

Sunday Routine readers can follow John Mulaney on Twitter @mulaney or Instagram @johnmulaney.

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