Have you ever thought that older people with the style of the last century are unfriendly or unapproachable? If the answer is yes, perhaps you will change this prejudice when you read the story behind the phrase “One feels like a duck“. What are your duckling days? Let’s see how Henry J Finch IV accidentally gave hope to the despairing 22-year-old John Mulaney, who later became a famous comedian, through the dialogue “Too Old to be a Duckling”. Let’s immerse yourself in the comedy special “The Comeback Kid” and read more about the famous stand-up comedian John Mulaney.

The Story Behind The Proverb “When One Feels Like A Duck, One Is Happy”

The proverb “One feels like a duck” appears in the “Too Old to be a Duckling” part of John Mulaney’s third stand-up comedy special named “The Comeback Kid”. 

The context of this quote is when Mulaney had a temping job at a small web company in New York City. His boss was a 70s man called Henry J Finch IV. Not only about age, but Mr. Finch also seemed to come from another century when his outfits were all linen suits with suspenders, a bow tie, a hat, and a cane with an ivory handle.

On a rainy day, Mr. Finch came into the office in a raincoat and a rain hat. Mulaney has quoted what his boss said as he stepped in, “Ah! One feels like a duck splashing around in all this wet! And when one feels like a duck, one is happy!” Then Mary, Henry J Finch IV‘s assistant, yelled, “Ooh, ducklings”, to which Mr. Finch replied, “Too old to be a duckling. Quack, quack.” then keep walking.

It seemed normal conversation, but this dialogue provided food for thought to Mulaney, a 22-year-old temp full of negative thinking. Henry J Finch IV, who was always aware of his age and mortality, really gave Mulaney hope and perhaps reminded him of John Mulaney quack quack ugly duckling days. 

Indeed, Mr. Finch’s limitless crazy currency gave us the funny proverb of “When one feels like a duck, one is happy”. He did inspire all of us.

So after getting inspired by Henry J Finch IV, how did the despairing 22-year-old guy, who even thought of death every day back then, live?

Henry J Finch IV - The Inspiring Story Behind The "One Feels Like A Duck"

John Mulaney in an interview on The Tonight Show on December 10, 2018 – Source: NBCU Photo Bank

Who is Henry J Finch IV?

For now, still a fictional character, but many believe he’s a real person. 

There is some discussion on social media that the boss who inspired the duckling John Mulaney was J. J. Bittenbinder. He is exactly as Mulaney described. Briefly about Bitterbinder, which is also a character in John parody but turns out to be a real person that gives chances that Finch is real:

J. J. Bittenbinder – the Chicagoan Safety Expert

J. J. Bittenbinder was born September 1, 1943, in Buffalo, New York. At the age of 28, he joined the Chicago Police Department in 1971. Many people regard him as an expert in violent crimes, as he has toured the country and given speeches to audiences about this topic. Moreover, his 1997 book “Tough Target: A Street-Smart Guide to Staying Safe” was critically and financially successful.

In 1995, J. J. Bittenbinder became the host of the TV program “Tough Target”, which focuses on crimes and their prevention.  Bittenbinder also has made guest appearances on many TV shows.

Besides “The Comeback Kid”, John Mulaney also mentioned Bittenbinder in his Netflix comedy special “Kid Gorgeous”. He referenced the Chicagoan safety expert’s presentation in Mulaney’s class at Saint Clement Catholic Elementary School.

J. J. Bittenbinder - the Chicagoan Safety Expert - Henry J Finch IV

John Joseph Bittenbinder – Source: www.rrstar.com 

Someone That Could Be The Old Man From The Last Century: Henry Joseph Finch

Fans went on searching and many believe that they might have found the real Henry Finch. Henry Joseph Finch was born on August 16, 1925, in Cathedral City, California. He passed away on September 5, 2010, in Loma Linda, California.

He was a resort owner for 60 years. Previously, he served in the Army Air Corps as a cadet for three years. However, this is still a myth. 

Someone That Could Be The Old Man From The Last Century: Henry Joseph Finch - Henry J Finch IV

Henry Joseph Finch – Source: www.duluthnewstribune.com 

Who Else Made John Mulaney Who He Is Today?

Charles and Ellen Mulaney

John Mulaney often tells jokes of his childhood in his stand-up. He often mentions his siblings and parents in his bits. Those who gave birth to comedian talent are Charles Mulaney – an attorney/partner, and Ellen Mulaney – a law professor at Northwestern University. They contributed to some of the most hilarious childhood stories of his as Mulaney pokes fun at how the nature of their jobs sometimes spilled into home life.

Who Else Made John Mulaney Who He Is Today? - Henry J Finch IV

Ellen Mulaney – Source: The Daily Northwestern

Charles W. Mulaney

Charles W. Mulaney – Source: usattorneywiki.com 

Jake McNamara

When explaining why he doesn’t drink anymore, Mulaney tells us the story of a party at Jake McNamara’s high school. The wild party even has drunk toddlers. Someone broke the pool table, and someone took the computer of McNamara’s dad. But that’s not the worst. The worst thing was that someone stole old antique photos of his grandmother, which made his parents freak out about it.

Of course, in a drunken state, Mulaney wouldn’t know anything about that. By the way, we can’t imagine what happened when Jake McNamara’s parents got home. What a brave sacrifice!

John Mulaney: The Distinguished Comedian With A Talent Showed Right From The Ducklings Days

Early Life: When Mulaney Showed Talent For Comedy

Since he was a child, Mulaney knew that he wanted to be in show business. At the age of 7, he joined a Chicago-based children’s sketch club, which offered him an audition for the role of Kevin in the comedy blockbuster film titled “Home Alone”. However, his parents turned it down.

John Mulaney: The Distinguished Comedian With A Talent Showed Right From The Ducklings Days

Since he was a child, Mulaney knew that he would be in show business – Source: Reddit

from 1996

John Mulaney’s child photo from 1996 – Source: Twitter

The Decided Path To Follow

After graduating from Georgetown University, Mulaney worked as an office assistant at Comedy Central. He soon realized that this position was a barrier to a career in comedy. Therefore Mulaney decided to quit this job to focus on his dream.

The First Successes

Mulaney finally rose to prominence after appearing on several popular late-night TV shows. Following his performance on the show “Late Night with Conan O’Brien”, Mulaney received an invitation to go for an audition for “Saturday Night Live”. He then held a position in the writing team for the show, where he stayed for 4 seasons.

The First Successes

John Mulaney on Saturday Night Live – Source: filmdaily.co

An Increasingly Growing Career In Comedy

Following his time with “Saturday Night Live”, John Mulaney went on writing and playing minor roles for many other TV projects.

The Comeback Kids: When The Saying “One Feels Like A Duck” Came Out

Mulaney released his third stand-up comedy special “The Comeback Kid” in 2015. This is the play that gave birth to the saying, “When one feels like a duck, one is happy”. You can watch “The Comeback Kid” on Netflix, where the special received acclaim from the critics.

An Increasingly Growing Career In Comedy

The Comeback Kid – Source: www.amazon.com 

The Next Steps On The Comedy Career Path

In May 2017, Mulaney started his stand-up comedy tour “Kid Gorgeous” lasting 2 months. Thanks to this “gorgeous kid”, John Mulaney received the Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special one year later.

The Next Steps On The Comedy Career Path

Special “Kid Gorgeous” has brought Mulaney a Primetime Emmy Award in 2018 – Souce: www.bostonglobe.com 

A Pause in The Brilliant Career

Page Six news exclusively revealed Mulaney had checked himself into rehab in the last days of 2020 after struggling with alcohol and drug abuse, including cocaine.

The move was a shock to fans, though he had talked about his previous struggles with substance abuse in his Netflix stand-up specials.

2 months later, John Mulaney left the rehabilitation center in February 2021. According to this news source, he then did well in outpatient sober care.

Mulaney confessed in a 2019 interview to beginning drinking at the age of 13. His alcohol consumption was to draw attention and rediscover his joy and sociability, which he inextricably lost when 12. His drinking also provoked him into using drugs.

A Worth Expecting Return In 2021

John Mulaney returned to comedy in May 2021 with 4-day live shows in New York City from May 10 to May 14. Following his first shows of 2021, John Mulaney has announced 10 more new dates to his current stand-up tour. From August 14 to 21, he will be performing at Boston’s Wilbur Theater.

According to Celebrity Net Worth, the last updated 2021 John Mullany net worth is $6 Million.

Explore more American comedians’ net worth here: A Revelation Of Top US Comedians’ Net Worth 


John Mulaney at Emmy Awards 2018 – Source: www.justjared.com


Even those who bring laughter to everyone have their moments of silence. We inspire and get inspired – this is a rule of life. Inspiring each other is our way of overcoming hopeless thoughts and regaining our energy for the journey ahead. 

“Life is the art of drawing without an eraser”, said John W. Gardner. So don’t worry if your duckling days have some flaws. Make it become what later makes you smile when reminiscing about your good old days.

Update the latest news about the entertainment industry in our Entertainment section.

Visit Jobandedu for more.

Want to know more about other US celebrities’ net worth? Try reading Top 10 Celebrities’ TV Show Net Worth In America and exploring Hidden Truths About TV Show Actors’ Family And Net Worth.

Click to rate this post!
[Total: 4 Average: 4]

By Layla Anderson

Layla Anderson is a full-time career consultant and joined JobandEdu in 2021 as a freelance writer. Before joining, Layla helps students and entry-level worker finds their career path and guides them through the application process. She starts taking on writing as she believes all people deserve to know about job details and the application process as well as the working environment before actually making their life-changing choices. She also writes to share her interests and valuable and useful knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!