I have seen three episodes of The Sopranos. I’ve seen one episode twice over twenty years. It is episode three. At one point in episode three, Tony Soprano brings a stripper to a friend of his who is dying in the hospital. The first time I saw it, I had casually sat down with my parents, who were watching their favorite show. When the stripper exposed her breasts and started rubbing them against Tony’s sick friend, I wanted to be anywhere else. John Mulaney has a stronger resolve than I do.
The comedian joined Stephen Colbert on The Late Show to discuss Mulaney’s recovery. Later, they get to the topic of Mulaney’s girlfriend, Olivia Munn, and how her parents came to help when the couple’s baby was born (must be nice). Mulaney claims that he and Olivia’s mom became fast friends and will often watch Korean films together. One night, a motion picture they were watching took an erotic turn.
Olivia’s Mom and John were able to laugh the moment off. It’s an undeniably sweet story. It’s the thing I missed while Late Night TV was gone. You can get heartwarming celebrity stories elsewhere, but there’s something about seeing a moment feel so genuine in a manufactured setting. That’s the secret sauce of late-night television. You need moments that feel like they would occur in private conversations but with nice clothes, cameras, and an audience. It is not easy.
Another moment like that comes at the end of this clip. Stephen Colbert gives Mulaney a gift in celebration of his sobriety. It ties back to the first time the gentlemen met. You can hear the emotion in Colbert’s voice when he explains what the present means (I won’t spill it here. Stick around to the end of the interview). It’s the kind of moment I would have liked to escape to that fateful night when I watched a woman grind on a sick man with my parents.