Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike Birbiglia (is my Boyfriend)Posted: July 18, 2011
WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT: If I were Shakespeare I would write SLEEPWALK WITH ME 154 sonnets. If I were Simon and Garfunkel I would compose it a song with my acoustic guitar and Peruvian pan pipes. If I were Picasso I would paint a picture of this book in which it had three eyes and five different noses. If I were the Queen of England I would knight this book so it would be SIR SLEEPWALK WITH ME.
Alas, alack, curse the heavens and rue the day, I am none of these people. I am just your friendly, neighborhood Books are my Boyfriends, so I will do what I do best: BLOG THE BEJEEZ OUT OF THIS TRAGICOMEDY MEMOIR!
First of all, thank you THIS AMERICAN LIFE for setting us up on our date. This American Life has also set me up on successful dates with books by Sarah Vowell, David Sedaris, Elna Baker, David Ellis Dickerson, Sandra Loh, Brady Udall and Etgar Keret. This American Life is basically the Yente of my Little Jewish Book Village and I’m 800% okay with this situation.
So Mike Birbiglia is a comedian who comes with what-up-you’re-impressive-credentials. In addition to being a regular contributor to THIS AMERICAN LIFE ( You guys know what this is right? It’s like if wizards were real and conjured up a radio show made of pure, sparkling magic ), he’s also released count-em-one-two-three comedy albums, one of which was named by the AV Club one of the best comedy albums of the decade, has had this-time-en-Espanol-uno-dos-tres Comedy Central Presents specials, has been a guest on Conan, Letterman, and the Jimmies (Fallon and Kimmel, natch), ran around the country doing comedy basically everywhere cool, had a one-man show off-Broadway, and then, based off of the content of that show, wrote this book.
What I like best about Birbigs (as he is known to his Twitter followers, of which he has 80,000-something-followers, right, he is basically a Kardashian) is that his comedy is all storytelling-based. Specifically storytelling-from-his-awkward-and-painful-autobiography-based. Birbiglia takes us through his parochial school childhood when all the other Catholic schoolboys were mean to him and he was a card-carrying member of the “Non-Making Out Club,” his- struggling-to-be-a-comedian-who-eats-more-than-Instant-Noodles-and-stops-sleeping-on-couches-and-starts-sleeping-on-real-beds- years, his up and down dating life (a particularly down,down,down story is when he gets dumped by his long-time girlfriend in the middle of an all expense paid tropical vacation), the title story which comes from him sleepwalking out a second story hotel window (and, you know, all the stuff that happens after that kind of event occurs) and, as As Seen on TV would say, AND SO MUCH MORE.
Birbiglia is the three-ring-circus-grandmaster of comic timing in his storytelling. His set-ups are sly, his punchlines surprising. His stories are slice of life, everyman, yes-this-could-probably-happen-to-you tales. The execution is razor-blade-sharp, 2400-on-the-SATs-smart, and there is a palpable, beating heart in his work. Sometimes it’s a foul-mouthed heart, sometimes it’s a slit-your-wrists-because-life-is-so-sad-sometimes heart, sometimes its a candystore-full-of-sugar-sweet heart, but the heart is alway there.
If I were Stephen Sondheim I would write Birbiglia a modern gothic musical about demon barbers, post-impressionist painters and fairy tale characters where all-the-lyrics-were-sung-really-really-really-fast. If I were Federico Fellini I would make a movie about Birbiglia that no one would understand, not even people who speak Italian. If I were Jamie Oliver or The Barefoot Contessa I would cook him the best ever dinner and I wouldn’t even make him do the dishes after, I WOULD DO THE DISHES!
But I’m Books are my Boyfriends so I’ll write this blog post to tell you that if you gobbled up Tina Fey’s BOSSYPANTS in four hours flat, are waiting impatiently for Mindy Kaling’s IS EVERYBODY HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME to be published in November and get its ass into your hands, and are going through modern comedy memoir withdrawal, here’s your fix, you’re welcome very much.
Do you guys have any comic memoir recommendations? I own Patton Oswalt’s ZOMBIE SPACESHIP WASTELAND which I am v.excited to read even though I don’t like zombies or wastelands (love spaceships.) After that, I’m out. Help!
WHAT KIND OF BOYFRIEND IS HE: A stand-up comedian boyfriend who is all kinds of successful and all-grown-up-New-England-Boarding-School cute. He makes your mom laugh and doesn’t have tatts/own a motorcycle so your dad is happy. No matter what you’re eating, spaghetti, ice cream, potato chips, he can make you laugh so hard it comes out of your nose. You have hilarious Gchat conversations when he’s on the road doing the stand-up circuit. His cuddling and spooning skills are unparallelled.
There’s just one problem.
THE DA DA DUH SLEEPWALKING.
Case in point, see our date.
MY DATE WITH SLEEPWALK WITH ME:
We are just book-human-spooning, just another night of sleeping in my bed, so boring we are literally snoring…
Then SLEEPWALK WITH ME starts, right, you know, sleepwalking.
He does more sleepwalking whilest I continue to sleep-sleeping.
I am awoken by a sudden portent of doom. I blearily look up…
“Don’t do it! Don’t sleepwalk off the edge of my bed. I will heroically catch you before you fall to your demise!”
“I’m going to be your sleeping seatbelt, okay SLEEPWALK WITH ME?” “Okay, Kit.” “Goodnight SLEEPWALK WITH ME.” “Goodnight Kit.” (Beat.) “Hey, Kit?” “Yeah SLEEPWALK WITH ME?” “Your pajamas are amazing.” ” I know, they’re acoustic guitars.” “I just wanted to make sure that before we went to sleep we talked about how great your pajamas are.” “Goodnight, SLEEPWALK WITH ME.” “Goodnight, Kit.”