Have you watched John Mulaney’s Netflix special Kid Gorgeous yet? If you haven’t, close this tab immediately and watch it (Add Ali Wong’s Hard Knock Wife to your queue while you’re at it, too. You’re welcome.) because I am about to spoil one of the very best bits in a special chock full of them. Mulaney gleefully recounts how his Chicago elementary school used to feature a grizzled detective named J.J. Bittenbinder who would deliver his lecture about how to escape when (not if, when) you’ve been kidnapped. Mulaney hilariously breaks down the whole ordeal, right down to Bittenbinder’s three-piece suit and cowboy hat. I swear you’ll be randomly screaming “STREET SMARTS!” for the rest of the week.
Anyway, if you were wondering if this Bittenbender was indeed a real person and not just a figment of misguided authority created for effect, have I got news for you: He is very, very real.
Not only is he very real, he is dedicated to his image enough that he went on the record to set Mulaney straight on a couple of things, speaking to the Chicago Tribune following the release of Kid Gorgeous.
“I never wore my cowboy hat to the schools. Now, I have been on cattle drives. I did 11 cattle drives and 11 cattle roundups in a ranch outside of Cody, Wyo., but that’s a separate deal. You don’t wear a three-piece suit with a cowboy hat. That just doesn’t work. Doesn’t look good.”
Truly, Bittenbender has his sartorial shit on lock. He also explained that Mulaney mixed up his adult lecture with his children lecture a bit for comedic effect, but “If I talked to him when he was 7 or 8 and he still remembers some of that stuff, it must have gotten through to him.”
And yet, there is more to this delightful tale. Mulaney was on The Late Late Show With James Corden to discuss Bittenbender’s umbrage, and Corden manages to terrify Mulaney into silence with a “we found him and he’s here!” fake out. It’s beautiful, but seriously, can we for real get them to do a joint interview?