Book Review: Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me.

Book Review: Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me.

I love reading my funny books. In my bathroom right now, there is at least one Pearls Before Swine collection and possibly Zits collection as well. In Time Magazine, the first thing I look for is Joel Stein and his goofiness. I think that good humor is hard to find and that which exists should be spread. I tend not to like most awkward humor. Perhaps as an awkward person myself, it hits too close to home. Other than that, I will give most stuff a shot.
Of the people I have discovered over the last few years, the man of the hour is Mike Birbiglia. I first heard him on This American Life a few years ago doing a routine called my Girlfriend’s Boyfriend. His style is simple and almost intimate. He tells very personal stories, almost in the way of a fable. He wants people to learn from his silliness in a positive way and he does so with subtle humor.
The book, then, is a compilation of these routines. This can be a minefield for comedians. There is an inherent humor to hearing a live show or recording of one. It is a natural response to laugh when you hear someone else laughing. With a book you loose it. This is especially difficult with a comedian like Birbiglia where so much of his humor comes with his pacing. His comedy has a slow emphatic pacing, designed to make his flawed decisions seem all the more ridiculous. Impressively, he manages to do this well in print. Unlike books by George Carlin, Drew Carey, or Jerry Seinfeld, Birbiglia does not revert to sections on one-liner jokes and fluff. His style is conversational and continuous. To compare this to a David Sedaris or Lewis Black though seems shallow. He is funnier than Sedaris and more personable than Black.
Though short, less than 200 pages, I really would recommend this book. Yes, if you have heard him do one of the routines in this on the Moth or This American Life, they may sound different and that may be frustrating, as is the amount of material that you can then hear online. However, the book is so well though out it is hard to find any of this flaws a real deterrent.

Sleepwalk With Me


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