Chris Storer Was a John Mulaney Fan Long Before ‘The Bear’

On June 6, the 2024 IndieWire Honors ceremony will celebrate thirteen creators and stars responsible for some of the most stellar work of the TV season. Curated and selected by IndieWire’s editorial team, this event is a new edition of its IndieWire Honors event focused entirely on television. In the days leading up to the event, IndieWire is showcasing their work with new interviews and tributes from their peers.

Ahead, “The Bear” creator and showrunner Christopher Storer tells IndieWire about being a longtime friend and fan of Innovation Award recipient John Mulaney, and how it felt to watch the comedian thrive on “Everybody’s in LA”

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As told to Proma Khosla. The following has been edited and condensed for clarity.

John’s one of my favorite people in the world, and I think long before we were friends, I was such a fan of his, not only as a performer, but also as a writer. John has such a hyper-specific style of storytelling, and he has this kind of hyper-specific confidence. I think that really was beautifully displayed in “Everybody’s in LA,” — which is to say, I think what I loved about that show so much is that every sort of minute of it looked like it was about to get out of control in every possible way. But because John is just who he is, it’s totally and completely in control.

I used to watch him when he would drop in on Seth Meyers or on Stephen Colbert, like in character. I was like, “This guy is amazing. This guy is incredible to be able to do this on a late show.”

He’s a deeply interested, deeply curious person, and he’s also one of the smartest people I know, and he’s got an encyclopedic knowledge of film. You can see the influences and some of the interstitials in the show, but also the way that it cut with some of the comedy bits, and then the guests that he has on the show. Every second of it felt so alive and like you were sort of dropped into the weirdest dinner party you’ve ever been to; it felt kind of dangerous, but at the same time also felt like it could spontaneously combust at any moment.

I’ve asked him before — I’m sure many people have asked him this question — if he was ever interested in having his own talk show. This was a way to do it where it was kind of finite, where he had six runs at it. And I think you can feel that spirit in the show, like “We’re only doing this six times, so let’s throw every great idea we have against the wall and sees what happens.” Because John was such a beautiful ringmaster, it all gelled in this way that felt so fun. It reminded me of something you’d see in the ’70s, or like some of the bits on Johnny Carson that felt like they got sort of wild and kept evolving into something else within the actual skit.

I would check in with him, because John’s somebody in my life that I talked to very, very often. We have similar tastes, but he’s somebody that I admire very much, so if there’s a project I’m thinking about or something that I’m having trouble with script-wise, he’s somebody I always go to. When I was asking him “Was it difficult?” He was like, “No, it was so fun.” There’s the difficulties of putting together a live show every other day for a week, but I could feel how much fun he was having, and that was really inspiring.

Because he’s so widely curious in anything and everything, you have a show where you have somebody talking about helicopters on the same couch as Earthquake and Marcia Clark. It’s really speaks to all of John’s interests, and also the way that John hosts an incredible dinner party with 10 people that have never met each other — and everyone seems to not only get along, but are asking each other questions in a way that feels pretty special.

A woman in a black turtleneck and a man in a striped gray shirt and glasses; Sarah Paulson and John Mulaney in 'The Bear'
Sarah Paulson and John Mulaney in ‘The Bear’Chuck Hodes/FX

I always say John’s a natural born filmmaker, too. I’ve never looked at him as strictly a comedian or a writer. As someone who’s directed him in something he’s acted in, I think he’s truly a gifted actor as well. When people ask me, “Why did you cast John in ‘The Bear?,'” it’s because when you look at him on stage, he’s one of our finest storytellers. It’s that simple. To do that every night in front of thousands of people, you have to be a pretty damn good actor, you know? You have to really be able to not only time out your set and craft your jokes, but also you’re performing at a lot of people every day, and you’re naturally going to become a hell of a performer that way.

On that episode, we knew that there were going to be so many people throwing fastballs … When it came to the Stevie part, it’s the outsider to that group that also has to be able to wrangle them in some way. There was really only one person that could do that, and that was John. He’s got like a three-page monologue that he’s got to deliver, but he’s also looking at John Bernthal and Oliver Platt and Gillian [Jacobs] and [Sarah] Paulson and Jeremy [Allen White] and Abby [Eliot] and and Jamie Lee [Curtis]. He had to really deliver in front of a lot of people who deliver every day, and he impressed me every minute.

One of the first times we sat down and started talking about “The Bear,” he told me that he had reached out to Robert Towne, legendary screenwriter, to have a coffee with, just to shoot the shit and talk about movies. That’s incredible. I don’t know many people that are doing that — he didn’t want anything from Robert Towne, he just wanted to talk about his work and his process. I think that says a lot about who John is.

I’ve always looked at him truly as an innovator, and someone that I admire very much and love very much as a friend. I’m so thrilled that everyone’s seeing these different sides of him.

Read John Mulaney’s IndieWire Honors profile.

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