Why John Mulaney Felt A Connection To Matthew Perry Despite Not Knowing Him Well

Unfortunately, drug addiction is incredibly common in the U.S., with 2020 numbers from the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics (NCDAS) confirming that a little over 25% of people who currently use illegal drugs are addicted to them. Beloved "Friends" star Matthew Perry often discussed his addiction, including writing about it in his memoir, "Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing."

Fellow comedic actor John Mulaney has talked about his own struggle with substance use and addiction, and his comedy special "Baby J" included plenty of material on it. Mulaney spoke with Variety about how he approached including stories of his addiction and rehabilitation in the special. Mulaney also noted that Perry's story resonated with him, even though he didn't know the TV star personally.

"Addiction is just a disaster," Mulaney acknowledged. He compared life to a rickety table with too much stuff piled on top of it, and added, "Then drugs just kick the f***ing legs out from under the table." As a result, he understood Perry's hardships and was ruminating on his experience following the actor's untimely passing. 

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Mulaney's recovery came with plenty of self-reflection

John Mulaney was interviewed on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" in October 2023, just a few weeks before Matthew Perry's shocking death. The comedian confirmed that in December 2023, he will have been sober for three years. Mulaney also expressed gratitude to Colbert for reaching out while he was having a tough time, describing it as "extra special in a way."

Although going public with his story of addiction and rehab wasn't that hard, the "Mulaney" star found it easier to divulge personal stories to bigger groups, quipping, "And that might be a real sickness." Colbert then brought up a play that he and Mulaney both love, "A Man for All Seasons," and asked the standup what he learned about himself during his addiction recovery process.

"I am a happy person," Mulaney asserted, even if he's done certain things that have caused him to not be that way, "But I am, at my core, a happy person. And it's okay for me to protect that by living the life I want to live." Mulaney added how his life is good and, "I don't want to be the reason that that gets complicated." This frank response earned him a round of applause from the audience.

Perry notably helped another comedian get sober

Another comedian who intensely related to Matthew Perry's struggles was Hank Azaria, someone who knew him well unlike John Mulaney. Following Perry's death, Azaria posted an emotional video on Instagram discussing his friendship with the "Friends" star. Azaria revealed, "Matthew was the first friend I made in Los Angeles." As young actors trying to make it in the industry, he and Perry filmed a TV show pilot together. Although it never took off, a bond was formed between the duo, which included drinking together, at first.

The actor, who also appeared in "Friends" as Phoebe's scientist love interest, David, raved about Perry's sense of humor, noting, "He just lived to laugh." Azaria also expressed how difficult it was to read Perry's tell-all memoir. "As his friend who loved him," Azaria admitted, "I knew he must be suffering but the details of it were just devastating." In fact, the first time he went to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, Perry took him. 

"The whole first year I was sober," Azaria recalled, "we went to meetings together. [...] As a sober person, [Perry] was so caring and giving and wise and he totally helped me get sober." Despite his passing, Perry can posthumously continue helping others with sobriety, thanks to the Matthew Perry Foundation. Perry's closest friends made his biggest wish a reality by forming the nonprofit, which will undoubtedly do good work for years to come.