Anybody familiar with writer and comedian John Mulaney knows he's had some issues asserting alpha male status with his French bulldog, Petunia.
He referenced the stubborn canine in his 2015 Netflix comedy special "The Comeback Kid," along with other well-timed stories, including his days spent as an office temp, chance encounters with colorful characters on urban sidewalks and the time he met then-Gov. Bill Clinton on the campaign trail.
But that dog is still getting under his skin.
"We started this thing with long stare-downs," Mulaney said from Los Angeles. "Like 20 minutes long. She normally submits. Your dog wants to relax is the theory that I'm operating under. Your dog knows you're agitated when you need to take it outside quickly. But if you approach it with agitation, your dog will be agitated. If you're calm, your dog will relax and submit. We were in the middle of a stare-down, and she barked at me. I laughed so hard. I kind of won that one."
Mulaney's been winning a lot over the past decade, ever since he was hired as a writer for "Saturday Night Live" at age 26, and the tragically hip club-going Stefon character, whom he co-created with comedian Bill Hader, became an instant classic on the Weekend Update desk. It's not a big shock to the 35-year-old clean-cut comic, who knew he was funny pretty much out of the womb.
"At a birthday party, at 4 years old, somebody said, 'That's a sharp shirt you have on,'" Mulaney said. "I said, 'Yeah, it's sharp, and sometimes I use it instead of scissors.' I still think that's a good joke."
Three well-received comedy specials later, including 2012's "New in Town," and one failed attempt at a TV show titled "Mulaney" that lasted one season, from 2014-2015, he's back out on tour with "Kid Gorgeous." He'll bring it to Pikes Peak Center on Saturday.
Topics du jour will probably include stranger danger: "We had a lot of stranger danger drilled into our head as kids. It was all terrifying, and I don't think I've ever shaken it," and whether his parents believe in ghosts: "I'm running out of things to talk about with them because I have no kids and I do stand-up. So at Christmas I asked them if they'd ever seen a ghost."
That said, though, there's no telling what Mulaney will throw into the act when he's in the spotlight. He's got a long list of tried and true topics, but he'd rather live in the moment than follow a set list.
"Specials are 60 to 70 minutes, but the live show is longer," he said. "It's fun to do 90 minutes with a crowd and try a lot of different stories and things. It's kind of go where the wind takes you. We found this on Broadway with 'Oh, Hello,' is you'll be a much better performer if you keep things spontaneous every night."
"Oh, Hello" is a love affair of sorts between George St. Geegland and Gil Faizon, two senior citizens played by Mulaney and his longtime friend and comedian Nick Kroll. They dress up in their Sunday best leather bomber jacket and plaid suit jacket, don white wigs and facial hair and adopt raspy, East Coast accents as they morph into two cantankerous pals who have a passion for tuna fish and talking smack. The show finished a four-month run on Broadway in January, and a filmed version is on Netflix. Many wonder what's next for the elderly dynamic duo.
"I want them to do 'The Amazing Race,'" said Mulaney. "But that means I have to do 'The Amazing Race,' which I'm not keen on."