Interview with Comedian Mike Birbiglia

Goodnight’s Comedy Club—Mike Birbiglia has made a career out of revealing things most people would rather keep quiet. Case in point: The subject of his hour-plus of all-new material he’s workshopping at Goodnight’s. “I’m working on a whole new show called Sleepwalk with Me, where I go into detail about a sleepwalking disorder I have,” says the 29-year-old comedian. “For a long time, I was kind of in denial about it, and that’s one of the themes of my shows—how we’re in denial about our various issues.”

Birbiglia, who calls his blog his “Secret Public Journal,” has parlayed his most embarrassing moments into a regular feature on the Bob and Tom radio show, three Comedy Central specials and, most recently, a CBS pilot with Bob Odenkirk and Six Feet Under‘s Frances Conroy. He says his comedy has taught him “the degree to which I push aside things I don’t want to deal with.”

Sleepwalk, which Birbiglia hopes to turn into an off-Broadway show and TV special, chronicles his battles with his disorder, which sometimes leads him to act out his dreams. “For instance, I’d have a recurring dream where there was an insect jackal thing hovering over my bed, and I would jump on the bed in real life in a karate pose and go, ‘There’s a jackal in the room!’ to my girlfriend,” Birbiglia says. “She got so used to it that she could talk me down: ‘There’s no jackal.'”

Birbiglia is excited about performing at Goodnight’s and feels that Sleepwalk features “the most real and true and intense and revealing stories, but it’s the funniest of my shows.” How does he make his humor work? “A lot of my comedy has its roots in the fact that the joke is on myself, so that’s made it easier.” —Zack Smith

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Reprinted from the Independent Weekly

Published by Zack

Zack Smith is a writer and journalist. He has written for such web sites and publications as, the Independent Weekly of Durham NC, Triangle Business Journal, Comic Book Resources and the Lynchburg News and Advance. He has a Master's in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and a degree in English with minors in Film Studies and Creative Writing from NC State University. He also writes children's books.

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