Henry J Finch IV – The Inspiring Story Behind The “One Feels Like A Duck”

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”

Not in a mood for Eric Thomas and Rick Springfield‘s timeless songs? Let your hair down with the comical “The Comeback Kid”!

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. When Mulaney stated in the show, 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’s 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 the Entertainment world.

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? Get to know the people who inspired Mulaney and made him who he is today.

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

Starting With The Boss Coming From Another Century – Henry J Finch IV

A 70s boss with all outfits of linen suits with suspenders, a bow tie, a hat, and a cane with an ivory handle, Henry J Finch IV seems to be a cartoon character. We all captured his spirit. But for now – still a fictional character, 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 

A LinkedIn Profile Named Henry J Finch IV – Was This Mulaney’s Real Boss?

While wandering around on LinkedIn, I came across a name I was looking for. Rather than the one we’re looking for, isn’t it? He is a security executive whose name 100% matches the name of Mulaney’s ex-boss: Henry J. Finch IV. His career is also quite similar to the role of a small web company in New York’s boss, as described by John Mulaney.

The only thing that confuses us is that his age is not the same as what Mulaney told us (in terms of both age and style). He certainly wasn’t 70 in 2004 (when Mulaney was 22). Or, does this boss’s fashion sense make Mulaney confused about his real age?

A LinkedIn Profile Named Henry J Finch IV - Was This Mulaney’s Real Boss?
Henry J. Finch IV – Currently working as Information Security Consultant at WINCYBER Solutions – Source: LinkedIn

Henry Joseph Finch – Other Name That Could Be The Old Man From The Last Century

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 

Then Who Else Made John Mulaney Who He Is Today?

Charles and Ellen Mulaney: A Pair Of Parents Whose Jobs Serve As A Resource For Their Child’s Stand-Ups

John Mulaney often tells jokes about 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.

Then Who Else Made John Mulaney Who He Is Today?
Ellen Mulaney – Source: The Daily Northwestern
Charles W. Mulaney
Charles W. Mulaney – Source: usattorneywiki.com 

Jake Mcnamara: One More Person Accidentally Inspire Mulaney To Have A Healthier Life

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, as Jobandedu found out. 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
Since he was a child, Mulaney knew that he wanted to be in show business.
John Mulaney’s child photo from 1996 – Source: Twitter

The Decided Path To Follow

After graduating from Georgetown University in 2004, 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. It was the right decision when 4 years after graduating, he had his first achievements.

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 such as Gil Faizon in Portlandia and a cameo in Crashing.

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, a totally different theme from Neil Gaiman’s whimsical world.

He’s got one of the most original voices in comedy; he’s an original thinker and I’m glad to welcome him back to the stage and in your inbox. This is just one of his flawless setlists. Great quality sounds on my record player and makes a great wall hanging. Also great if you’re looking for some PG-13 comedy or a strong belly laugh. I listen to John when I need a pick me up or just when I need a good laugh. I’m trying to get my friends hooked on him too so we’ll have something interesting to talk about.

Remember the 2012 comedy special “New In Town”? Mulaney wrote some lines about Law and Order-related theme (featuring Christopher Meloni and Ice-T), fans love it so much they hired Ice-T to make a parody of this. If this is not awesome, I don’t know what is.

The Comeback Kids: When The Saying "One Feels Like A Duck" Came Out
The Comeback Kid – Source: www.amazon.com 

The Next Steps On The Comedy Career Path

Kid Gorgeous at Radio City is a new generation of stand-up comedy: he talks about the things we all think about, but are too afraid to say. Inspired by his grandmother’s deathbed confession, Kid Gorgeous has built a cult following in the US and Canada. The best comics are often the most honest, and Kid Gorgeous is no exception. This live performance includes many of his best bits from the ‘No Kidding Tour,’ capturing his signature style in front of a live audience. How he made headlines is somewhat like the comedian Adam Goldberg‘s success.

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 Award for the Outstanding Variety Special Writing one year later. This was a big step for John Mulaney, as the Emmy Award is considered the highest award in the television industry. 

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 he began 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 lead to drug use for more than 10 years. Mulaney then quit drinking and abusing cocaine in 2005 (exactly 1 year after meeting the duckling boss!) when he realized how bad things really were. It was likely social distancing in the COVID-19 pandemic, causing pauses and stagnation in Mulaney’s projects that triggered his relapse after 15 years.

How Did Mulaney Rebound: Never Be Embarrassed At The Bravery To Ask For Help

One thing that probably relieves the pressure of public opinion on John Mulaney is that he has always chosen honesty regarding his struggle with addiction and his attempts to stay sober. It was his decision to be involved in this treatment, and he never hid it.

That’s why John Mulaney has received an incredible outpouring of support from fans and other celebrities. At a closer look, recovery is always difficult, especially after a relapse. Emotional support to the one you love at his difficult time is one of the most valuable gifts you can do for them.

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.

A Worth Expecting Return In 2021
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.

Emma Anderson

Emma Anderson is a career consultant and freelance writer for JobandEdu by night. Layla assists students, and new hires in determining a suitable career path and walk them through the application process. She decides to pursue writing since she thinks everyone should have access to information about potential careers, such as the application process and the company's culture. She's into writing, driving her with stuff that interests her in all her good reads.