Comedian Mike Birbiglia Republishes 'Sleepwalk with Me' Book (Video)
Mike Birbiglia has often been described as a sort of comedic Renaissance man. He's acted, done theater, stand-up, radio, and even written a book. And that book, his 2010 memoir, "Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories," has just been republished with a new foreword from NPR's Ira Glass for the wide release of his movie, "Sleepwalk with Me" (for which Glass was a co-producer and co-screenwriter).
In "Sleepwalk With Me" Birbiglia shares many traits with some of today's top comedians. He has Louis C.K.'s vulnerable honesty, without the intense cynicism toward relationships, Demetri Martin's low-key personality and subtle delivery, and Jim Gaffigan's all-American appetite. ("I would marry pizza, but it would just be an elaborate ploy to eat her whole family at the reception," says Birbiglia.)
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For Birbiglia fans, the book doesn't contain too much new content, which is of course a blessing and a curse. Readers who are familiar Birbiglia's material through his comedy albums, two appearances on "Comedy Central Presents," and his extended special, "Mike Birbiglia: What I Should Have Said Was Nothing - Tales from My Secret Public Journal," will recognize the vast majority of his popular jokes. However, Birbiglia followers will enjoy seeing how his jokes translate from stand-up comedy performances into text, and where Birbiglia places emphases while telling them.
Birbiglia's style is often uncomfortably personal, but he gains emotional traction with his audience by exploring his familial relationships to a greater extent than he has ever done in stand-up.
For those unfamiliar with Birbiglia, expect depictions of awkward experiences from childhood and adulthood that most sane people would strain to forget. But that's what's best about Birbiglia: he looks his audience square in the eye, and then proceeds to detail his most embarrassing memories, from his first make-out session to his infiltration of a NASCAR focus group in order to snag some free cookies.
That's the appeal of "Sleepwalk with Me." Birbiglia's candidness, wit, and insight into his own modest nature, explore the psyche of an average guy. It lends the book a groin-punching universal relevance. And that's likely what gave Birbiglia the idea to turn the book into a film. Teaming up with NPR's Ira Glass on the script, Birbiglia directed, and starred in the film, which won a "Best of NEXT Audience Award" at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.
Birbiglia first wrote "Sleepwalk with Me" as a one-man show in 2008, and starred and performed the show off-Broadway at the Bleecker Street Theatre in New York City. The show blended stand-up comedy with theater and was a critical success. The New York Times called the Nathan Lane-presented show "simply perfect" and Time Out New York named it their "Show of the Year" for 2009.
"Sleepwalk with Me" the book, and film are both out now.