In this episode of “Going Out With Jake Cornell,” host and former NYC hospitality pro Jake Cornell goes out with actress and friend Molly Bernard. They chat about the nightlife culture of Berlin, balancing work with going out, and why you shouldn’t punish yourself after a debaucherous night out — especially if you had fun. Tune in to learn more.
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Jake Cornell: This week, we are talking to one of my dear friends, and an incredible actress. You may know her from “Younger,” “Transparent,” or her other wonderful work. We have gotten so close over the past few years and have the good fortune of living near each other, which has been such a blessing. She is a star, an icon, and a light. Please enjoy me going out with Molly Bernard.
Molly Bernard: So little Nate is in Berlin?
J: Little Nate is in Berlin for another week.
M: What’s he doing? Going to Berghain every night of the week?
J: Last weekend, of the 24 hours Berghain is open, he was there for 18. He sent me his iPhone step count in one 24-hour period. He took 98,075 steps.
M: No, no, no, no, no, no.
J: It was ridiculous. So the podcast is going to be very, very conversational. We’re just going to talk about all things going out. It’s very low-key. We can talk about whatever we want. There are no games. There’s nothing like that.
M: What if you were like, “And we are going to be playing mind games on this podcast?”
J: So it’s mostly riddles and math. So we can probably just start recording and get into it. You’re already recording. Gorgeous, I love it. And we’re in. Did Nate already talk to you about Berghain?
M: Nate said nothing. I just saw that Nate was in Berlin, and he’s obviously going to Berghain left, right, and center. That’s what he’s doing.
J: Have you been to Berlin?
M: I have been to Berlin. I f*cking love Berlin. Wait, have you not?
J: No, and this is the conversation of how it goes every single time. I was going to go this time, but I just transitioned to doing comedy full-time, and doing a big, expensive trip didn’t feel financially OK. I’m just getting used to it, you get a job, you live off of that for a minute, you got a new job. I can’t comfortably do a vacation on week three of that. It feels a little bit irresponsible and a little bit like tempting fate to be like, “No, we’ll put you back in your place if you get too excited.” Do you know what I mean?
M: I also love the idea of you being three weeks in like, “I’m actually really wiped out, I need a three-week vacation.” I need to spend two of those three weeks in Berlin and Berghain, so thank you.
J: But after this trip, Nate was like, “I think I’m going to go once a year.” I think I’ll go with him next year.
M: I will also go with him next year. It’s my favorite city in the world. Not to get too literary, but I feel like that city — you’ll understand it when you go — but you see its scars everywhere.
J: Wait, that’s so interesting you say that because Nate said the exact same thing. He was like, “You can literally see the history written on the buildings.”
M: Yes. And they did this amazing thing with the parks, they have some of the most beautiful parks in the world. I think it’s Volkspark. It’s a hilly, beautiful park. It’s like a park for the people. It’s my favorite park in Berlin, even though they’re amazing big parks there. I’m pretty sure Volkspark is a hill. The reason why it’s a hill is that its rubble from that entire neighborhood that Volkspark now sits on that was bombed and destroyed. So they just piled the rubble and put grass on top and made it into this amazing park. It’s like this element of reification in Berlin that they’re just like, “We can make a beautiful space from something not.”
J: That’s beautiful.
M: Their airport is an old Nazi airport. Tempelhof, I think it’s an old Nazi airport.
J: Yeah, it’s still an airfield and there are planes and you walk around and stuff.
M: It is so amazing. That’s another example of a place that was really soured, it has a really terrible history. But there are gardens, there’s a public community garden. It’s the best place to go riding your bike because it’s flat because it’s an airfield. The public reclamation of the city is so beautiful.
J: I love that. I didn’t need to be sold on the city because I have been dying to go. It’s so funny because it really shows you how young America is when you go to European cities and see the history and stuff. When I was in Prague, I remember that was the big one for me. Have you been to Prague?
M: No, I’m dying to go to Prague.
J: This is how poisoned my brain is. I will never forget standing in the main square of Prague where the astronomical clock is and all this stuff. I was like, “It reminds me of ‘Beauty and the Beast.'” Someone was like, “You f*cking idiot, that’s what they based ‘Beauty and the Beast’ on.” Disney based it on something that’s hundreds of years old, you f*cking idiot. My poison brain is, “Oh, Disney.” No, it’s a beautiful historical place.
M: That’s a really wonderful example of what it is to be an American.
J: 100 percent, we cannot view things through a capitalist lens, even when we don’t mean to.
M: Particularly Disney.
J: The Disney of it all.
M: The Disney of everything. By the way, I went to Disneyland this year during the pandemic with a mask on this summer with Hilary and all of my godchildren, and I had so much fun. I had not been since I was a child. And my love, my darling, my Hilary Duff got tour guides. We got to go in front of the line for all of the rides. So we got to ride all of the rides.
J: I mean, that’s my dream. I love rides. I wouldn’t say I’m a Disney adult, but I do think Disney World is fun because no place is putting more money into their rides than Disney. And I’m a sucker for anything immersive, immersive theater, immersive shows. And most of the Disney rides are honestly like immersive theater pieces. I’m such a hog for them, so being able to do them all in one day, I’m so jealous.
M: You need to go be a hog in Southern California and go to Anaheim and go to the Star Wars ride.
J: That’s what I want the most.
M: It is immersive. It is like cosplay. I know I’m an actress and I know I’ve been on sets, but I am in outer space right now. I transcended.
J: Yeah. If you get someone who’s spent all of their career in their adult life on sets, you know the scenes and how fake it is, and yet you still were fully fledged into it.
M: Oh, fully. At this point, I am glad I’m on the dose that I am of Prozac. It’s getting me to the next level. I’m experiencing life in real time right now.
J: That’s such a healthy way to view your antidepressants being like, “These are hitting good right now.”
M: Oh yeah. Someday it’s early in the morning, I take my Prozac. An hour, two hours later, I’m like, “I don’t know if I took it.” Sometimes I double down by accident, but those are always really good days.
J: I’ve never taken an antidepressant. I’m open to it, it just hasn’t come up yet in my life. But is there a comedown if you take two. Will you feel a little depleted the next day?
M: No, no, no, no. I’ve rarely done that, but there are some days. I have to have a sense of humor about it because it actually is extremely helpful. I have really high anxiety and I hopped on it a few years ago when I was extremely depressed when Trump was still president. I had a very hard time seeing the positive, and I could not see through my fog of “everything sucks.” And so I hopped on it and it was really, really helpful. Now it keeps me from when I get really anxious or if I have any kind of panic attack, there’s a floor. I’ve probably done a double day two or three times by accident, and I wish I felt it. But I do have to joke about it. I’m always like, “Hannah, anything can happen today.”
J: Feeling a little extra crazy. I think that’s also a really healthy way to frame it. It’s not actually changing your personality or changing the way you view things or think things, it’s just giving you a few bumpers so you don’t fully fall off the edge of time into these pits of despair that I think can happen.
M: Totally. Completely. It is a bummer, I think I’m going to steal that. For me, I always just say the floor thing. For folks who are listening who experience panic attacks, when that floor falls, it’s the scariest. It just prevents that scariest part of having anxiety. But yeah, there are days when I’m kind of bumming. And I still feel depressed. It doesn’t take that away. I don’t feel numb. I don’t feel totally away from myself. There’s still accountability. I have to meditate. I have to exercise. If I just sit around, I’ll be depressed. I have to remember that the schedule helps, especially when I’m not filming anything. But it’s really helpful. I’ve also seen some of my friends over the years who have felt less stigmatized because I’ve been on it and I’m so open about it. I’ve really seen big changes in them. If they’re really depressed or feeling dysfunctional, they get on a drug and it just provides a little baseline support.
J: Yeah, it’s just a little bit of an extra thing. It’s like a vitamin in a way, like a very strong vitamin that’s been well developed through science.
M: A very strong vitamin.
J: You just touched on the structure, or the lack of structure, especially when you’re not filming in your day-to-day. You and I are friends, we’ve gone out together several times, but I don’t really know your life. In your life, what role does going out play for you?
M: Like going out, going out?
J: Whatever it means to you. If it means going out to dinner, if it means going out for a big night out, going out for a casual drink, whatever that means to you. How does the term “going out” and the idea of going out play into your day-to-day life?
M: First of all, I’m a recluse. Sign me up to lock my doors, close my windows, and don’t let me out of the house. I have two dogs. It’s hard to walk the dogs. But then I get out and I’m like, “Oh my God, I love the world and I love being outside and I love dogs,” and I love to go out.
J: I empathize with you being a recluse because your home is so gorgeous and I understand wanting to stay inside of it. You’ve created such nice energy in your home that I get wanting to stay inside of it.
M: That is so nice. I do love this house. It is very hard to leave. I love going out. I feel like I’m in this moment of my life where, because of the pandemic, I never used to drink at home. It was always a thing that I did when I went outside. L.O.L, when I went outside. I would just step outside, and that’s when I would just open my mouth and then I would just drink from the air.
J: You drink like people smoke cigarettes, you step outside and drink a glass of wine, then go back in.
M: Oh my God, yes. I’m sorry, guys, I need to take a drink. I need to take a rosé break. Actually, I should implement those. But now that the world is opening a bit, I have loved going out. Hannah and I just got back from our honeymoon, we f*cking went out.
J: Greece, right?
M: Oh yeah, we were in Greece. By the way, talk about old sh*t. That place is old, so ancient. I was like, “Oh, we are walking through ruins.” True ruins. But one night in Milos on this amazing Greek island — yes, it’s real — we met these two astonishing older gay men and ended up drinking five bottles of wine. It was exquisite. It was so much fun. It all started because our waiter was a self-proclaimed sommelier, and so he was like, “This will go great with this. This will go great with this.” And we were like, “Yes, whatever you say, Andros. Give it to us.”
J: The word “sommelier” is so funny to me because everyone learned about it in the past five years. When I was working in restaurants, somebody would be like, “So are you the sommelier?” Just for the sheer practical application, I’d be like, “Yes.” Just for the application that it would make you trust me and I just needed you to figure out what wine you wanted and believe me with my answers. I know about wine. I know what I’m talking about. Am I going to pay the board to certify me and take all the tests? Absolutely not. But for the intents and purposes of what you need to know, yes, I am the sommelier tonight. I think you should get the Cab.
M: Yes, oh my gosh. Get the Cab and that’s it. I have no other recommendations, this is the only one for you.
J: What is a lovely night for you, going out in New York?
J: It is so nice because you need to decompress the piece. Especially someone like you, I think you get really charged by it and you need to talk. At least the one time we saw a show together, we had to talk.
M: Well, can you imagine how depressing it is to see a play and have nothing to say about it.
J: If I was in a play, that would be the most insulting thing for someone to say after, “We didn’t really have much to say about it after.” I’d rather you be furious about it. I would rather it enraged you than to say, “I didn’t have anything to say.”
M: Me too. That’s why I loved “Slave Play,” by the way, because it was so polarizing. People were either all about it or it enraged them.
J: That was my experience with it. I feel that way about movies, too. I feel like “Spencer” is really having that right now.
M: Oh yeah. Is it out?
J: It’s out, and I adored it. It’s only been out for a week. I’ve already had three different conversations with people where it’s been butting heads with really dissenting opinions on it.
M: Oh, I can’t wait to watch it.
J: I think it might be that director, because “Jackie” was the same, and it’s the guy who did “Jackie.”
M: Yeah. Did you like “Jackie?”
J: I loved “Jackie.” Did you love “Jackie?”
M: I loved the film. And I love Natalie Portman. I couldn’t get into her as Jackie and I really wanted to because it was set up for success.
J: Everything about it is so stylized, and I think for some people that connects them to it. And I think for some people, it takes them out almost. I think that may be part of it. For me, it really worked. Also, I think “Spencer” is getting mis-advertised. It’s a horror movie. It’s a psychological horror.
M: I mean, her life was kind of psychological horror.
J: Well, that’s kind of why it’s genius. I genuinely was scared at parts, and I thought it was so effective.
M: Oh, I love that. I can’t wait to watch it.
J: Yeah, it’s really good.
M: That is genius. That is really smart to take that story.
J: And make it a horror. It really focuses on claustrophobia and that microscope of it all. It’s genius. But what I’m hearing is, something that can really make a night out for you and go out for you, is having the art piece to talk about and to bring in.
M: Yes, that’s right. And I want a delicious meal, mostly vegan or vegetarian. Sometimes when I’m on my period, let’s do fish. Let’s do pescatarian. Also sometimes, I’ll just say it, I like to go to Williamsburg and I like to go to Mogador, and I like to wait in line and wait for my nice table and sit down and stay there for hours and have their little house cocktails and then some wine. I like to do the Tashjian, the vegetable Tashjian, I like to sit there. I like hummus, spicy carrots, and I just want to talk about what book you are reading. Who are you seeing? What’s going on? What’s on your nerves? How’s your family? What are we thinking about our dogs? Are you going to get a dog? Because that’s a prerequisite to being my best friend, you have to have a dog.
J: You already have such good dogs yourself, though.
M: But I want everyone in my life that I love to experience the same level of blind joy. This is why every time I hang out with you, I’m like, “So are you going to get a dog.”
J: We’re really always on the cusp of getting a dog and I think I need to. I’m afraid of the commitment, but I also think I medically need to, because my cat allergy has gotten so unbelievably bad. And it breaks my heart because I love cats. I’m more of a dog person, but I do love cats. I’m desperately afraid I’m going to develop a dog allergy and I think getting a dog will prevent it.
M: Inoculate yourself, get a dog. You need a dog like Henry, Henry is like a cat. He’s a national treasure.
J: I could see us getting a dog in the next few years. Right now, Nate and I both just went through big scheduled job changes. I went to comedy full-time. He’s transitioning his job. The schedule is just shifting. But I think we’re hoping to in the near future. And you will know because you’re our neighbor. We will let you know.
M: I’m thinking in the next few months for you guys. I think the next few years is a dramatic statement. Next few weeks, even.
J: OK, cool, maybe.
M: A few years. Are you OK?
J: I want one so bad. I have a lot of fear around it, but I’m a commitment-phobe. Whereas you’re a recluse, I’m the opposite. I like to be out all the time, which is not great for having a dog. But that’s also changing as I’m getting older. So, you know, who knows?
M: I mean, Hannah is the same way. Hannah needs to be going out all the time. Hannah makes six plans in one day, and I’m always like, “Whoa, girl, you got to slow down.”
J: Totally. I think that makes sense. I and Hannah have that in common where we’re out, we’re moving, we’re connecting, we’re social. And then you and Nate are a little bit more like, “Let’s chill out.” You were just talking about Mogador, which brought up a few things for me. Mogador is a great example of a restaurant that has been around forever and can kind of maybe get its eyes rolled at. But it’s a classic for a reason, and people love it for a reason. I don’t think there should be any shame around going to a place where you know exactly what you’re getting. And if you love it, you love it.
M: Oh yeah, I love it. And I think I grew to love it because I loved the one in the East Village years ago, like a decade ago. But then when I was on “Younger” for the past seven years, we would shoot around Williamsburg in that area all the time. It was a great place to do a lunch break and it was an even greater place if we wrapped kind of early, not like in the middle of the night, to go after we wrapped and just let loose and have a beautiful dinner.
J: To have the release of that, because that’s so gorgeous. You were talking about those conversations before. Do you have a lot of friends who you maybe don’t keep in touch with on a day-to-day basis, and then it’s like, let’s do one dinner and catch up on the past three months because we haven’t talked?
M: Yes, I do have some friends like that and I love that. I’ll go to Walter’s and we’ll do an all-day hang.
J: That’s one of my favorite restaurants of all time.
M: Me too.
J: It’s my happy place. Walter’s is one of my happiest places.
M: Walter’s fries?
M: I’ll travel far and wide.
J: Just being in that room at the Fort Greene Walter’s, it’s heaven to me.
M: Absolutely gorgeous. I love that room, and they’ve done a really good job with their outdoor seating, too.
J: Everything about it. They’re very blessed with the location to be on that corner. But I think those friendships, to me, are one of the most valued. I have a couple of friends, like my friend Sabrina. We keep in touch very lightly. And then every three to six months, we’re blocking off a whole night, we’re sitting down, and that’s when we’re going to catch up. There’s such love in that. I don’t feel any pressure to have to do maintenance on this friendship because we’re both busy people in between. Frankly, you and I are kind of like this as well. We’re not going to text all day because we’re both busy or whatever, but we know that when we catch up, it’s like no time has passed. It’s also kind of exciting to be like, “I even talk to you in three months, what’s going on? Catch me up on everything.”
M: I know. Like that day that we met up right around here and then ended up wandering to your house. I wasn’t even supposed to hang out with Nate, but we ended up sharing that beautiful bottle of wine. That is an ideal day for me. That’s actually an ideal hang, not even a day, but I prefer an all-day hang. I like a hang that starts early in the day and that goes late into the night.
J: I agree, I love that as well. This is kind of validating to me because a lot of the people I’ve been interviewing for this podcast also like a late hang. But they’re looking to start at 9 p.m. and wrap at like 5 a.m. Because I’ve been friends with the people also I’m doing this podcast, I am going out and doing the nightlife moments a little bit more. I’ve been venturing into that world and I can hang. But is it spiritually and even chemically necessarily what is supposed to be happening for my body? No, I don’t ultimately think so. Meeting somewhere between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and wrapping at maybe 10, 11, and 12 at night is heaven to me.
M: That is heaven. You know what? I’m going to meet you for a brunch, maybe even a late brunch. We’re going to hang out. We’re going to have a little drink at brunch. Then we’re going to go get a midday coffee or tea as we walk to the next location. That could be your house. That could be my house. That could be the other person’s house, OK? We sit down, we do some house hangs, we have to walk the dogs, whatever. Then we go out, we go to dinner. Uh oh, but the place where we have reservations is not ready for us. So we had a drink at the bar. OK, we’ve got a drink at the bar. How lovely. Then we sit down, drink more, go out to another place where we continue a night of debauchery, friendship, love, and celebration. And it’s if we’re all queer, yes.
J: A plus we’re all queer. And a plus if we got to do all of that and then we’re in bed by 1 a.m. and I get to drink some water and I’m not ill the next day.
M: That’s right. Night night, tucked in by 1 a.m., love you.
J: To me, that’s so perfect. There’s something special about that length of time; the meander and the walk. That hang we had was so good. We ended up in the backyard. That’s it for me. You get to touch on a lot of different things.
M: But I guess when I was younger and going out, I was interested in nightclubs. I didn’t actually go to clubs until I was older than most of my friends who did some club stuff. I used to go to a lot of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” events where I went out.
J: Yeah, those can be a full rip of a night.
M: Yes, you need four days of recovery.
J: Maybe four seasons ago, there was a period where Nate and I were going to this one “RuPaul’s Drag Race” night where there were three weeks in a row where we woke up in the morning and we were like, “Who went home?” We don’t know who had gotten eliminated, so we need to dial back. It’s not OK that we went out to watch “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” and I can’t confidently tell you who got eliminated. That is a little bit of an issue.
M: That’s right. But I also think the internet is useful for that.
J: And I’m happy to do a rewatch, you know?
M: Oh, I’m rewatching right now. I’m rewatching Katya’s season.
J: Seven or All Stars 2?
M: Yeah, the first season. It’s fun. I forgot how good it was.
J: Yeah, that’s a very stacked cast.
M: Oh my God, I know, it’s so good.
J: Going out for drag in New York is a whole separate category of a night for me. The energy of that will kind of blow me out. I’m down to be out late, that’s going to kind of charge me in a way that’s going to be different. I’m going to eat at home because it’s a different kind of blowout of the night, and I love it.
M: And that’s a night that starts late and ends late.
J: It has to. For the good drag, it really has to. For some of the best drag, you’re probably just discovering the queens. One of my favorite things about seeing drag out is when the queen you’ve never heard from before comes out and you’re like, “Who the f*ck is this.” They’re blowing you out of the water. That’s not happening before 11 p.m., usually.
M: I have to tell you, I shot this movie in the summer with Shangela.
J: You told me, I’m dying.
M: It was amazing. My dog might be barking. It’s not might, it’s just a fact, that he’s barking.
J: It adds texture.
M: OK, great. So I’ve got texture in the background. He’s a little guy. I’m just painting a picture for the listeners at home. He’s 8 pounds. He’s got a big bark. I can’t give him a belly rub without giving him a hand job. Okay, anyway, that’s Henry. So I was in Savannah, Ga., shooting this gay action film with Shangela.
J: My literal dream.
M: It was amazing. There’s this club in Savannah called Club One Jefferson, and it’s the drag bar and club. It was amazing. We went out almost every night. Hannah came for a weekend while I was shooting. I don’t think we got home until 3 a.m., and Hannah and I don’t really do that. Where like 1 a.m. or midnight kind of girls. This was late and wild and it was fun. Just to your point, there was this drag queen that came out on the stage. What is her name? She’s going to be a star. Someone urgently needs to get this woman on RuPaul’s stage. Her drag is stunning.
J: OK, I’m dying. I’m so excited to see her.
M: She’s tiny. She’s snatched. She looks like Ariana Grande, but in a good way.
M: I’m dying for her, and I was like, “Oh my God, this is so fun.” And again, that was at 1 a.m.
J: The famous queens will go earlier because that’s what the crowds are there for. But the ones that are hungry and are fighting for it and are just about to get discovered, that’s my f*cking favorite.
M: By the way, the drag show started at midnight, which is fantasy and dream stuff.
J: We love that. You just mentioned that you did a movie. You are an actress.
M: Oh, I’m an actress. But actually, now I’m just a professional hat maker. I’m just crocheting things. I’m actually a 90-year-old grandmother, thank you.
J: When you’re not on set, you’re just making hats?
J: But I’m curious. I don’t really know that much about your, for lack of a less pretentious word, process. If you’re playing a role or you have a character, is your life offset while you’re shooting affecting if you’re going out or not or how you’re going out? Or how you’re kind of living your social life?
M: Very much. I do not go out on days that I’m working. Weekends are pretty sacred. We did do seven seasons of “Younger” and towards the last couple of seasons, I felt a little comfortable having a glass of wine the night before work. But I used to be really paranoid about drinking and having any kind of compromised mind or headspace the next day. Because I do get anxious on set. I have to really keep that in check. I mean, that’s why weekends are amazing. But sometimes our days are so long. They’re like 18 hours. We mostly “Fraterdays,” where a Friday turns into a Saturday. The only weekend you really have is Saturday. You sleep late, maybe hang out with friends on Saturday night, and then back to bed early on Sunday for an early start. Sometimes, my call times on Monday are like 4:30 a.m. And we wrap at 4 a.m. on Saturday. So it’s kind of a mind f*ck. For my film called “Milk Water” that’s on Netflix right now, that was a 22-day shoot and I didn’t see anyone for 22 days.
J: Especially because you’re the star of the film, you’re in every scene. Outside of not going out and stuff, you’re performing. Your mental and emotional state is part of what you have to bring to work every day. I’m also selfishly acting like someone who’s starting to work as a performer. What do you do to preserve and bring that stuff, even though you might not actually have it? In terms of energy or joy or excitement, or even the reverse, like having to do emotional performances on days when you haven’t been sleeping and are really up against the wall.
M: Yes, that is a great question. It’s different from job to job. I did a two-year stint on “Chicago Med,” and that’s an hour-long drama on NBC. I ended up having some dramatic scenes. I thought I was just kind of a quirky med student, but they ended up liking this character and writing some complicated stuff for her. That was awesome. But I did find that that job was a little hard for me to access an emotional life to enter my performance and be transparent. That was easier for me. That felt like I was in an amazing play. I went to the Yale School of Drama for acting, and sometimes I do have to use my toolbox rather than my emotional life. There is a school of acting that argues that to pull from your own personal emotional life can actually be really traumatizing. And then you’re left with these open wounds after whatever heavy dramatic scene you do.
J: Which is why so many acting schools have been called out, I feel like, in the past, used for being really damaging and exploitative. Because it’s a really unhealthy way of teaching it.
M: Right. Not that I go by any specific school, but Stella Adler and Strasberg said it’s imagination. What’s going on? If you use your imagination to feel and assess what’s going on with the person that you’re playing, you will actually probably play that person better than were you to go from your own sh*t.
J: Totally. I’m curious about the Yale School of Drama. It’s grad school, but are people partying, or is everyone very serious?
M: No, people party hard. It’s a big party situation. It’s similar to me shooting. The weeks are so long, and there would be months at a time when we were doing crazy projects that were all time consuming and no one was sleeping, that it wasn’t consistently every weekend. But there are a few big parties at the school a year, and those are big-time events. Big, big, crazy, beautiful debauchery.
J: This is satisfying for me to hear because I think I sometimes give myself a complex. I went to a state school/party school. I’m a comedian, I’m an actor, I’m earnest. But I did not come up in that world. And then I came up in the comedy world, which is a little bit separate. So I think I sometimes view partying, going out, having a drink, and going to a bar, as antithetical to being an artist or being creative.
M: Oh my gosh, no.
J: I think it’s helpful to remind me, oh yeah, they’re still ripping it at Yale, too.
M: You’ve got to. When you’re working exceptionally hard, you have to rip it. And listen, there are times when I don’t drink at all. I am completely sober because it’s better for me at the time, either mentally, emotionally, or artistically. Then there are other times when I’m going out to dinner and I know that I’m working the next day at 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. If it’s not an early morning call time, and if I’m out with my moms or even Hannah, I’ll have a glass of wine. The trick is not to punish me. I think because I’m such a perfectionist and I take my artistry so seriously, I have to be very, very careful to walk that line of not just being a monster to myself.
J: This is very much what I’m going through right now because I recently transitioned to being a comedian full-time and not working in a restaurant. Suddenly, all seven nights a week are free. I mean, I have shown, but I don’t have these six-hour restaurant shifts. I’m negotiating my time off; when am I going out. When am I staying in? When am I drinking? When am I not? I’m also doing shows where you are getting drink tickets and there are drinks behind the stage. I need to be writing during the day. I’m working on a million things when I’m not doing shows. So it’s negotiating my self-care in terms of partying and consumption and social life, with staying in. I think that such an important part is not beating yourself up, freaking out, or feeling like you’re spiraling. You can assess, you can pause, figure this out and move on to the next thing. It’s just been interesting. I mean, I’m still very much in the midst of it right now. I’m on month three of this or whatever. But it’s been a very interesting journey for sure.
M: Which is why you’re ready for a three-month vacation in Berlin.
J: I’m going to go to Berlin for three months.
M: You’ve been busy for the past three months.
J: Maybe I’ll get a dog in Berlin.
M: Oh my gosh. That’s the dream. Come home. Go go to Berlin. Be enchanted. Come home with a dog. Come home with a dog, a beautiful German pup. They have longer snouts over there. They’re cuter than our dogs here. They look German, they do. I just want to say, don’t forget that there’s this whole culture of French salons and poetry salons. Artists are kind of luscious. There’s a time and a place, right? That’s the thing. Listen, the pandemic did a number on me in terms of, there was a moment there where I was drinking every night. And I was like, “This is great.” But then I was also like, “No, this is bad.”
J: Actually, it’s bad.
M: But that’s also because I had nothing else to do, like the rest of the world.
J: I don’t want to talk about it too much because no one wants to talk about the pandemic. But it’s also a little bit of like, let me press fast forward in this a little bit. Let me get this time to pass the f*ck by because I really don’t want to be sitting in this.
M: Let me just drink my night juice every night so that I wake up and the pandemic is over.
J: Remember that Adam Sandler movie “Click”? It was just like going forward, fast forward.
M: Fully. But there is this element of the romance of experiencing, I don’t know, the life of an artist with my artist friends. I was once a part of this amazing group, and I would go out these nights. We called ourselves “Kevin,” and it was a bunch of us who went to these graduate acting programs. It was maybe seven of us who were working in film and TV, but who wanted and were really hungry to — not be back in school — but still nourish ourselves fundamentally as artists. We would do some Shakespeare things. We would do scene work. We would write. It was really exciting. Those nights we would get together for two hours and work and play and be young, struggling artists in New York. For anything after the two hours, everyone brought a bottle of gin or a bottle of whiskey or a bottle of wine. And then we would sit, drink, and discuss art. And those were always my favorite moments of the night because it felt like a different time. It felt like an artist’s salon and I was like, “This is actually amazing.”
J: I think there’s something interesting about that. I don’t think either of us would ever say, to have those experiences you need to drink alcohol. But I think there is something nice about, for me sometimes, the drink is like the page turn of the transition from the really heady stuff into being like, ” And now we’re releasing and relaxing.” Sometimes the tonal change of the conversation in the flow brings in new ideas and new perspectives. I think it can be kind of nice sometimes to have that shift.
M: I agree. Let me be very clear, I really think that at some point in my life, I will probably just stop drinking. I don’t know when, but I know why. The problem is I love going out, and I love the intimacy that can happen. Kind of what you’re talking about with a fun night of drinking with your friend, or some new friends. And it’s beautiful. But the days that I spend anxious after a night of consuming alcohol, I don’t know if it’s worth it. For me, it’s constantly a negotiation.
J: I feel similarly a lot of times. I think sometimes I wonder if that will ever happen. I wonder if I’ll ever just totally stop drinking. But going out is such a big part of my personality and it’s such a source of my joy. I’m hosting a f*cking show about it. I don’t need to intrinsically drink to do that. But I also have noticed that certain parts of my personality that surround going out and drinking that used to cause me a lot of anxiety has, as I’ve gotten older, started to quiet and smooth out in ways. Especially when I first moved to New York I was constantly in a state of FOMO. I was feeling like I needed to be out because I was in New York and it’s an empirical fact that something fun is happening somewhere. Someone’s having more fun than you at all times and there’s a place you could be. I constantly felt like I was chasing that, and I was going out in search of that. I would go out after work, after a back-breaking restaurant shift. I still felt like I needed to go out, because what the f*ck else am I living in New York for? That has faded overtime for me. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten more confident. I’ve just learned to build a life that I’m really happy in. I don’t need to go out in search of that.
M: And isn’t it more fun to go out in that mindset?
J: Infinitely. It’s also just a product of having roots in the city and having really strong connections and stuff. You and I live in a sick f*cking neighborhood. I feel really connected to that neighborhood and I can see people I know and I can run into people. There are a lot of connections there. I could see a world where one day I’m like, “You know what? I’m kind of done with this,” and what the different problems that alcohol can bring up in my life. But I also wonder, is my relationship with it just going to develop into something more and more healthy and probably less and less frequent? I don’t know. I guess either is fine. And if it ever becomes a problem, then we’ll have to cut it out, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
M: That’s what I think. It’s so funny. I’m 33 and I still just punish myself, even if I’ve had a gorgeous night out. Our wedding night was the best night. I was the ultimate party girl. It was so fun. We had so much fun. And then I barfed and I got mad at myself, and I punished myself the whole next day. I was like, “Girl, you just had a beautiful wedding.” I was so upset and am still punishing myself.
J: No, I know what you mean. But then you can also just be like, “Yeah, and I barfed.” And it’s fine. I didn’t die and I still got married and I still had a wonderful night. Are you doing that every night? No. Punishing yourself is so interesting. Nate and I had this conversation recently because — this actually wasn’t that recently, but I still think about it a lot — where I started smoking weed a lot before bed to help me fall asleep. Nate kind of expressed the thought, “Oh, I think the goal should be that you can fall asleep without any sort of aid and it’s less desirable to fall asleep, smoking weed.” I was kind of like, “I get what you’re saying.” At the same time, I’ve always had a lot of anxiety about falling asleep. I just had a really hard time with it when I was a little kid. And I think there’s residual trauma anxiety from it because when I’m actually tired, I really don’t have a problem falling asleep. But I think I’m going to, and the weed helps with that. It just makes me tired and then I fall asleep. And I was like, “Should I be striving to fall asleep without smoking weed sometimes? Or am I punishing myself for it?” It’s hard to find that line a little bit. I’m not smoking weed before I go to bed every single night, by any means. But the nights I do, I wake up feeling like it was a good night of sleep. It would have been better had I not used weed to fall asleep. And then I punished myself a little bit for it. Is that necessary?
M: I know exactly what you’re talking about. It’s not that you’re thinking about it all day, but you wake up and you feel great. Oh, I had a good night of sleep. I shouldn’t have taken a hit of that joint or whatever. I take CBD to fall asleep. It’s extremely helpful.
J: Yeah, I do, too. The CBD I like is at this one grocery store that’s one avenue farther than I normally go, and I just always forget to buy more of it. But when I have it, it’s phenomenal. It’s this oil. It’s so good.
M: I actually have been using this CBD, it’s 40 to one. So it’s 40 CBD to one THC. That is night night, right under the tongue.
J: Is it a drop?
M: Oh yeah.
M: Or honestly, last night I took Benadryl. I was feeling anxious and I needed to go to bed.
J: I’ve heard that that’s fine once in a while. But if you regularly do it, that’s actually so bad for you.
M: I had a whole week of Benadryl nights when I was feeling particularly anxious and then Saturday came around and I was like, “I feel yucky.”
J: It’s like your body needs histamine. Your body does need to use its immune system.
M: And also my lids were very heavy and it was fully a gorgeous, sunny Saturday a few weeks ago.
J: And you’re a no coffee queen. So that’s really hard.
M: Hannah was like, “Do you want to take a Saturday nap?”
J: She’s like, I think you need to lay down for a little rest.
M: Napping time.
J: I think my sleep anxieties pushed me to go out a lot when I was younger, too.
M: You were running away from your sleep anxieties?
J: Yeah, because I used to be really afraid of having to lay in bed trying to fall asleep. I don’t know why that used to scare me so badly. It’s less so now, but there’s vestigial trauma from it. I have a knee-jerk response that you’ll have to lay in bed trying to fall asleep. Yeah, which is what every human does every night of the week, for their entire f*cking lives.
M: But people have severe sleep anxiety. My therapist gave me this brilliant idea a few weeks ago. He told me to work backward. So don’t think about falling asleep or don’t control my sleep based on bedtime. Control it based on what time you want to wake up. If I’m trying to wake up every day at 8 a.m. and I know that I’m a nine- or 10-hour sleeper, I should definitely go to sleep by 11 p.m. or midnight. If I do that every week, no matter what, wake up at 8 a.m., not sleep past my alarm, after a week it will regulate. Even if I went to bed the night before at 2 a.m. because I’m a night owl and I love to read and I love to crochet and do all my weird nighttime things. You will start to get tired at 11 p.m. or 12 p.m., to get your hours and to wake up by 8 a.m. This was the key thing, he said, only get into bed 10 to 15 minutes before your bedtime because that’s when you’ll be tired. If you lay around for an hour, tossing and turning, an hour can easily turn into two or three.
J: That’s so interesting. But that is a challenging thing about our job. When you’re working, you can’t do that. But I guess that makes it more important that when you’re off your jobs, you can be really diligent about getting your body back in sync so that you can f*ck it up again in six weeks when you go back to the next job.
M: Exactly. Right now I’m in a big transition moment in terms of what’s next. I’m just auditioning constantly, which is both wonderful and just so insane. That kind of mindset that my therapist introduced, I wish I had that tool three years ago when I was literally going from project to project with a three-day break. We’ll have kids soon, Hannah and I, so I’ll have that in my arsenal. But I really used to struggle with how to refresh my brain, my body, and my mind, and then be able to work those extremely long days on set.
J: The people you worked with on “Younger” were so seasoned. Did you turn to them to be like, “How do you do this?” Because you booked that so quickly after school. I can’t imagine just jumping into those hours as a full-time series regular, from being on a school schedule. It was just so quick. I feel like that must have been so physically and mentally hard.
M: It was so hard. I was so anxious. I would overwork everything. I was completely obsessed and regimented about sleep, panicked that I wasn’t going to sleep enough because the whole time we were up so early, and I was not used to that. I’m a late sleeper. Late morning wake-up, love it. So that was intense. I asked everyone how they dealt with it. Mainly, it ended up resulting in anxiety on set. Now I know, and it’s taken me being on a show for seven years to realize that if I’m feeling anxious, I need to spend five minutes meditating in my trailer. Which sounds so actor-y, but I have to just quiet my mind. Otherwise, I will anxiously monologue at my closest friend on set. One season Hilary was like, “Molly, I love you so much. Everyone here loves you. You’ve got to stop worrying. And at the very least, stop vocalizing it because it’s stressing all of us out.” She was like, “We love you, and we’re rooting for you.”
J: That’s a good f*cking friend.
M: She’s amazing.
J: That’s a really good friend. Being a loved one to someone who has a lot of anxiety can be more harmful to hold space for it. To constantly let someone feed you that and give you that. You’re scratching a wound, constantly monologuing on it, and you have to cut this off. That’s a really good friend to give you that advice. I think that’s very powerful.
M: It was invaluable. I feel like that’s the day that I became an actress. Yes, I went to acting school and all this sh*t, but I’ve always been anxious. In order to be a high-functioning, reliable, good-natured actor, that’s kind of how you need to be on set. Yes, you need to be extremely talented, or the hope is that you’re extremely talented. But more importantly, you need to be reliable on set and calm in the face of insane circumstances. You can’t train for that until you’re on set and having a panic attack, right? So I had to learn how to make space for that in myself so that it didn’t impact others.
J: Yeah, that sounds like it is probably very hard. But a very valuable thing to have.
M: The best thing that ever happened to me. Because now I don’t worry about myself on set anymore.
J: I assume that also then bleeds out into your personal life as well and vice versa.
J: Because it’s not just a work thing at that point, it’s also how you function. It’s a life thing.
M: I love growing up. I love it so much.
J: Growing up, is in general, a very, very healthy, healthy thing.
M: It’s the best. You couldn’t pay me to go back in my 20s.
J: I just turned 29. I wasn’t miserable in my 20s, but I’m very excited for my 30s is what I will say.
M: You are going to be 30, flirty, and thriving.
J: I’m very excited about it. I’m very excited about it. I have one year left in my 20s and then we’re really going to get it going.
M: 29 was my best year, by the way. You’re going to have a ball.
J: I’m enjoying it so far. We’re on week two and it’s going well. Knock on wood, but we’ll see how it goes. But I’m very excited. I’ve loved this and I think we’ve landed on a really beautiful theme. If you’re going out, if you’re working, whatever you’re doing, don’t punish yourself
M: No. Really don’t, it’s not worth it.
J: You don’t deserve a punishment.
M: No punishment. Not even a punishment pizza.
J: Here’s the thing. When someone says this to me, it always really helps me remember this. People who feel like we deserve punishment are because we want to make sure we’re being our best and we’re being good. I don’t believe in a culture of punishment, necessarily. I don’t know that anyone deserves a punishment, but the people who actually deserve punishment in this world do not think they deserve punishment. If you’re the kind of person who cares enough to think you deserve punishment, you don’t. Does that make sense?
M: That is so good. I do know what you mean. Because Donald Trump and all of his people think they’re God’s gift. And in my mind, I’m like, “Listen, here’s what I want for you.” I want you to have a bad case of anal, oral, or genital herpes. I want there to be no medical professionals around and no medicine to help.
J: I do not want their flares synced. I want them to be unsynced. So one is constantly going and you never know which one’s next.
M: Absolutely. I also want them to have several root canals and no access to dental care or medicine. I don’t wish for death. I wish for pain and discomfort.
J: I feel the same. And on that really positive note, Molly, I truly adore you. Thank you so much for being here. I’m going to come over soon with treats and say hi to you both and hang out with the dogs.
M: Please. This has been a dream. And I expect you to have a dog in four weeks or less.
J: OK, I will let Nate know and we’ll figure out what happens.
M: Great. Great. Great. Great.
J: Thank you so much.
M: Thank you.
Thank you so much for listening to “Going Out With Jake Cornell.” If you could please go and rate and review us on whatever you’re listening to this on, that would be really gorgeous for me in a huge way, so thank you.
And now, for some credits. “Going Out With Jake Cornell” is recorded in New York City and is produced by Keith Beavers and Katie Brown. The music you’re hearing is by Darbi Cicci. The cover art you’re probably looking at was photographed by M. Cooper and designed by Danielle Grinberg. And a special shoutout to VinePair co-founders Adam Teeter and Josh Malin for making all of this possible.