Although the date announced previously, tickets are now available to see Mike Birbiglia at the Zellerbach Theatre on Penn's campus on Friday, October 10th.
Birbigs was last in Philadelphia this past November at Helium as a warm-up for his Comedy Central taping the next day in New York City. This time, he's got something different planned:
I’m doing an All-New show, plus some of the favorites from my two Comedy Central CDs, Two Drink Mike and My Secret Public Journal Live.The new material consists mostly of long-form, narrative-based stories that makes up "Sleepwalk With Me", Birbiglia's new one-man Off-Broadway show that is set to debut in November (presented by Nathan Lane).
We will laugh, we will cry, but I will try to keep the focus on the laughing.
Over the years, Birbiglia's material has evolved from short bits (on his first two albums, Dog Years and Two Drink Mike) to longer stories (his latest album, My Secret Public Journal). He's always been funny, but the longer stories seem to connect more with his audience.
In a May interview on The Sound of Young America, Birbiglia talked about approaching stand-up comedy more as storytelling than just telling jokes, citing Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor as examples. In the longer stories of these comedians, there isn't quite as much reliance on a constant stream of laughter from short "bits" of comedy, rather, the laughter will come from jokes within a longer story. It's a more personal, almost monologue side to stand-up that can garner a stronger connection with the audience.
Birbiglia then went on to talk about "Sleepwalk With Me":
I have a sleepwalking disorder that's pretty serious and I actually almost died. It's a pretty intense story, but the first hundred times I told it, it did not receive laughter and then there was this tipping point where it started getting the most laughter out of anything that I tell. It's not on any album, but I get it requested a lot because it's a very long, involved, kind of epic story.This year Birbiglia has been working on the material at UCB shows (recaps here and here) and a live recording from The Moth live show in New York City aired on the This American Life episode "Fear of Sleep". In the most gruesome of the stories from this recording, Birbiglia recounts jumping out of a hotel window to escape a missile attack that he was dreaming. He's vulnerable as he relates an event that is so out of his control, but he's self-effacing enough that the audience laughs instead of pities him.
And there's no doubt he'll have the crowd with him when he performs here in October.