As I embark on my comedy-writing journey, I’ve been on the lookout for comedians whose work challenges and inspires me.
A while back, a friend suggested I check out Mike Birbiglia. I forgot about his recommendation, until one day, I heard a Terry Gross interview where Birbiglia was discussing his new film about improv, “Don’t Think Twice”. It was one of those serendipitous moments: I remembered the conversation I’d had with my friend, I remembered I’d been meaning to check out Birbiglia’s standup for months, and, I’d recently fallen in love with improv.
That NPR interview was my red pill, and I went down the Birbiglia rabbit hole. Later that day, I listened to the This American Life episode featuring Birbiglia’s story. That night, I watched “Sleepwalk With Me” on Netflix. I fell in love with his storytelling style and penchant for clean, deadpan humor.
I’ve been considering a lot lately what makes a comedian funny. Often, it’s because we can relate to some aspect the storyteller is sharing– we find the truth in comedy. Birbiglia’s autobiographical story, and the resulting visualization of it, “Sleepwalk With Me,” is relatable. “Sleepwalk With Me” boils down to the hero’s journey as Birbiglia fights his demons and recognizes his goals. We can all relate to that.