If you are a fan of Mike Birbiglia, stop reading this review and go buy Birbiglia’s new special “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” which is available as a DVD or a CD or MP3 comedy album. You will love it.
If you are not familiar with Birbiglia’s work, this new special requires a bit of an explanation so that you know what you’re getting when you lay down your cash.
“My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” is not traditional stand-up comedy. If that is what you’re looking for, Birbiglia has a lot to choose from. Starting with 2004’s “Dog Years,” stand-up comedy fans will find much to enjoy in that album, or in 2005’s “My Secret Public Album,” 2006’s “Two Drink Mike”, or 2007’s “My Secret Public Journal.” Amongst those, 2006’s “Two Drink Mike” is my personal favorite of the bunch. Those albums all fit the traditional stand-up comedy mold -- a mixture of short and long form jokes, with typical structure, covering a wide range of topics.
Beginning with “Sleepwalk with Me,” Birbiglia’s style took a significant turn. No longer fitting within the mold of stand-up comedy, Birbiglia began what can more appropriately be termed “one-man shows.” Essentially, he took long form stand-up to the extreme, and crafted an entire special around a single theme. In “Sleepwalk with Me,” Birbiglia’s special focused on his battle with sleepwalking, and the dangers posed by that condition. It was a one-man show, a book, a movie, and then a comedy special on CD/DVD.
Following the huge success of “Sleepwalk with Me,” Birbiglia’s new special “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” is another one-man show. This 72 minute special focuses on how Birbiglia met his current wife, and the relationship trauma that got him to that point.
There is no shortage of stand-up comics who relay their personal experiences in their acts. Many even spend time trying to convince you “this is real; I couldn’t make this stuff up.” But, never in the several decades that I have been a stand-up comedy fan have I ever heard material that felt as honest and personal as the material in “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.” Birbiglia covers all of the painstaking details that led up to his eventual marriage, including the painful experience of not only dealing with the fact that one of his girlfriend’s had another boyfriend, but also having to meet the parents of that girlfriend’s boyfriend.
Now, when I say this is more of a “one-man show” than traditional stand-up comedy, that is not meant to be derogatory. Quite to the contrary, I have absolutely nothing derogatory to say about this special at all. It is, however, meant as a bit of a warning to the purchaser. Do not expect the type of laugh-out-loud, big belly laugh-per-minute experience of a great stand-up comedy performance. You won’t find that here. What you will get, however, is of equal value. What you will get is a 72 minute story that is funny, immensely entertaining and enjoyable from start to finish. Birbiglia is a master storyteller, and immediately likeable, even when detailing his own shortcomings.
One short tangent from the core relationship stories is a story about The Scrambler, an amusement park ride. I don’t want to spoil this story by providing any details, but I will say that this is an excellent story, and demonstrates that Birbiglia’s skill is not limited to serious relationship material, and that he is equally adept at showing his sillier side.
I have been a fan of Birbiglia for years, and even though his style is changing, his value as an entertainer is not. Funny as always, this guy is simply incredible. This is another amazing performance, and I cannot wait to see what Birbiglia has in store for us next. Is it back to traditional stand-up? Is it another one-man show? Something entirely different? I have no idea, but with Birbiglia, it will definitely be funny.
Other Mike Birbiglia Reviews
Dog Years: Dog Years is a decent independent release comedy CD
My Secret Public Journal Live: Fourth stand-up comedy CD by Mike Birbiglia and I'm not a fan.
What I Should Have Said Was Nothing: Better than the CD much of the same material is on.
Sleepwalk With Me Live: Superb long form stand-up one man show.