About Mike Birbiglia
A comedian, actor, writer/director, and author, Mike Birbiglia's expertise in long-form storytelling results in standup sets that are often categorized as one-man shows. With an affable yet neurotic demeanor and anecdotes that continually find him in the role of the underdog, his alternately understated and confrontational humor won over a growing fan base as he was coming up on the club circuit in the early to mid-2000s. He released his first comedy album, Dog Years, in 2004, though by that time he was already active in The Moth storytelling series and was a frequent guest on radio shows including The Bob and Tom Show. As he became a regular contributor to public radio's This American Life, Birbiglia had an off-Broadway hit with 2008's Sleepwalk with Me, based on his experiences with a life-threatening sleep disorder. It was later adapted into a best-selling book, Billboard chart-topping comedy album, and critically acclaimed indie film. Following another film as writer/director, 2016's Don't Think Twice, Birbiglia made his Broadway debut with 2018's The New One, which was inspired by the perils of fatherhood.
Growing up in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, Birbiglia tried many different outlets for his creativity. Poetry held his interest early on, but by his teen years he had switched to hip-hop and wrote a rap for the graduation ceremony about his school's anti-drug program. Going to see Steven Wright on his 16th birthday steered Birbiglia toward standup. He specialized in quirky one-liners in the Wright style up through his early years at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. He took a job working the ticket window at the D.C. Improv, where he also performed; it was during his time there that he decided to develop his act into something more real and biographical. After studying the work of Woody Allen and Richard Pryor, Birbiglia developed a mix of one-liners and personal stories that would instantly connect with audiences. He refined his style around the D.C. area before graduating in 2000 and moving to New York City.
A successful night at the Comic Strip Live introduced Birbiglia to the club's general manager and talent coordinator, the late Lucien Hold. He set up a string of shows that brought the comedian to the attention of talent scouts and helped him land a Late Show with David Letterman appearance in 2002. Success snowballed from there, and soon Birbiglia was touring nationally, appearing regularly on the Bob & Tom radio show with his "My Secret Public Journal" segment, and developing projects for the Comedy Central network and record label. In 2004, Dog Years became his debut album for the label. His fan base grew quickly, and indie-style T-shirts quoting Birbiglia routines were virally spreading the word. The comedian returned with the audio-video combo release Two Drink Mike in early 2006. It spent 19 weeks on the Billboard Comedy Albums chart, peaking at number six. Based off his blog of the same name, My Secret Public Journal Live followed in 2007 and went to number three on the same chart. That year, he made his film debut in the title role of Stanley Cuba, a parody targeting director Stanley Kubrick.
Birbiglia opened his first off-Broadway show, Sleepwalk with Me, in 2008 and spent the next few years spinning it into different projects. Simon & Schuster published an accompanying nonfiction book, Sleepwalk with Me and Other Painfully True Stories, in 2010, followed one year later by the album Sleepwalk with Me Live on Comedy Central Records. It reached number one on Billboard's Comedy Albums chart. Following a supporting role in the 2011 film comedy Cedar Rapids, January 2012 saw the Sundance Film Festival premiere of his directorial debut, Sleepwalk with Me. Ira Glass was among the co-writers and producers of the film. Later that year, Birbiglia also appeared on an episode of the HBO series Girls.
In the meantime, Birbiglia opened another stage show, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, off-Broadway. After touring the U.S., Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom, he gave a final performance of the show at Carnegie Hall in June 2013. That September, he made his Netflix debut with a taped performance of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend from the Intiman Theater in Seattle. Three months later, it peaked at number two on Billboard's comedy chart.
In 2014 and 2015, Birbiglia won recurring roles on the series Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central) and Orange Is the New Black (Netflix), and appeared in movies such as The Fault in Our Stars and the Schumer-penned, Judd Apatow-directed Trainwreck. He wrote and directed 2016's Don't Think Twice, a look behind the scenes of a fictional improv troupe. Its ensemble cast featured, among others, Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate Micucci, and Chris Gethard. Birbiglia delivered his second Netflix special, Thank God for Jokes, in 2017. Again based on his personal experiences, it included his recollections of separate awkward clashes with the Muppets and film director David O. Russell.
Following a national tour and off-Broadway run, Birbiglia's next show, The New One, marked his Broadway debut. With candid discussion of his experiences as a husband (of poet J. Hope Stein), expectant parent, and new father, it enjoyed a three-month run at Broadway's Cort Theatre beginning in October 2018. Returning Birbiglia to the top spot on the Billboard comedy chart, Thank God for Jokes received a vinyl release by 800 Pound Gorilla Records in October 2019. The New One had its Netflix premiere a month later. ~ Marcy Donelson & David Jeffries
BORNJune 20, 1978