Before His Show at the Pageant, Comic Mike Birbiglia Talks Love and Holograms

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Mike Birbiglia will do his stand-up act at 8 p.m. Thursday, September 24 at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are $27.50. For more information, call The Pageant at 314-726-6161.
  • Mike Birbiglia will do his stand-up act at 8 p.m. Thursday, September 24 at the Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. Tickets are $27.50. For more information, call The Pageant at 314-726-6161.
Storytelling stand-up Mike Birbiglia's got a tale from every town: "St. Louis is very special; it's where I met my wife. Fellow comic Greg Warren, who lives in St. Louis, was doing a gig for the college wrestling championship, performing for all the coaches. My wife at the time worked for a sports TV network that was covering it. I was hanging around with him and he introduced me to Jenny at this hotel he was staying at, and I was like, "You have to convince her to come out." We were there for St. Patrick's Day, so to come out drinking for St. Patrick's day. He did, so much so that when she came out, she thought she was on a date with him. He kept kind of disappearing, and eventually she realized she was on a date with me. And then last year we got married at City Hall." Fresh from his extended off-Broadway debut and heading out on a nationwide comedy tour, the Letterman and Bob & Tom fave is ready to both look ahead and leave no embarrassing memory untold.

The last time I interviewed you was a year ago, after your one-man Sleepwalk With Me shows at the Montreal Comedy Festival. It's been a big, creatively fulfilling year for you, I imagine.

Yeah, it's been a wild year! There's been much going on.

Your run of Sleepwalk With Me finished up two months ago. What are your feelings now that it's done?

I have very fond -- I don't know if I've ever used the word "fond" for anything -- but it has really opened me up emotionally. I'm using words like "fond." So I have fond feelings about it. I went into this territory that I was afraid of and intimidated by, which is New York theater, and I came out feeling really happy. So I'm thrilled about that. And I'm working on a book right now for Simon and Schuster called Sleepwalk with Me and Other Stories. I'm working on a screenplay adaptation of Sleepwalk with Me. If anything I'm overwhelmed by getting ready for the tour, writing these things. But I feel very good about it.


(From Birbiglia's performance in 2007 at Saint Louis University.)

For a screenplay, would it be you, or someone playing you?
 
It would be me. I'm gonna offer to be cast as me. I'm definitely gonna get auditioned to play me. If I have anything to do with the casting, I will be partial towards me. So yeah, I think it'll be me.

I know there hasn't been all that much acting in your career thus far. You would feel pretty comfortable playing yourself in front of the camera?

I've acted a lot, just not on film. I've acted a lot on stage and in shorts and things. And I actually shot a scene in this Drew Barrymore comedy last week, this film called Going the Distance. I play the waiter, which is very familiar territory for me. It did not require much work.

How is the book going to differ from the stage and the screenplay?

The screenplay is a pretty faithful adaptation of the one-man show. The book is a lot bigger and longer. I am exploring sides of myself I never thought I would. I've definitely expounded on a lot of things where I never thought I would revisit those memories.

What about a potential DVD of the live show? Would that be stepping on the screenplay's toes?

The vibe from the people involved right now is we're gonna see how the screenplay goes. If the director who we go with is comfortable having there be a concert version, afterward I think it will definitely see the light of day. On whatever form comes after Blu-ray. Whether it's hologram or, uh, I dunno. What's next?

Eyeball-implant chip, beamed directly in your brain?

Yeah. It's coming to an eyeball implant near you.

Very near you. What's the likelihood you'll do a similar show again at some point?

A lot of the material I'm doing this fall is actually potentially developing for the next show which I have in mind right now. It's tentatively called The Accidental Marriage and it's loosely based on one of the pieces I did for This American Life this year. That hopefully would be the next one, and if I can stay on track I would maybe do it next fall. You never know. It's hard to say. But yeah, that's the hope. The thing that is cool about this whole tour is I'm doing a combination of stuff from Sleepwalk With Me, stuff from Two Drink Mike and My Secret Public Journal Live, and there's all-new material, a lot of which developed just from writing this book and being like, "Oh, that's a funny story! How can I work that in?"

It's exciting because a lot of the shows are close to sold out. We hand-picked these venues; they're beautiful places to see comedy. I say on Two Drink Mike, "It's exciting when people come to see my shows on purpose; they're not just drunks as passersby." I really feel like that's happening now more than ever. I'm not on a sitcom, I'm not in a lot of movies, I'm just doing stand-up comedy. There's a few people who I really admire, like Brian Regan, and Mitch Hedberg was like that, where people start to show up just because the stand-up comedy is good. That's really very exciting for me, so I try to thank everybody who comes out.

Comedy Central Live: Mike Birbiglia - I'm in the Future Also. 8 p.m. Thursday, September 24. The Pageant, 6161 Delmar Boulevard. $27.50. 314-726-6161.

For more information about Birbiglia, visit his website: http://www.birbigs.com

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