Ira Glass on collaborating with Mike Birbiglia
Ira Glass is sitting upstairs at the Somerville Theatre, while “Sleepwalk With Me,” screens to a packed cinema below. As this is the first movie Glass has ever co-written, does it pain him to not be in the audience?
“It does, actually,” he says, putting his hand to his chin.
“Sleepwalk with Me” is the brainchild of comedian Mike Birbiglia, a frequent guest on the radio show and podcast that Glass hosts, “This American Life.” Birbiglia is known for his willingness to incriminate himself with his humorously humiliating stories. Would Glass ever do something like this? Maybe.
“The character who I play on the radio is a part of myself that is honest, but I’m presenting so many other people’s things,” he says. “And I don’t let myself look that bad, because I’m being a reporter and sometimes being a hardcore reporter, it seems weird to be that naked. Maybe that’s a failure of imagination; maybe I could do it more.”
Glass says whether or not he does change gears and starts to tell more revealing stories from his personal life, his collaboration with Birbiglia has definitely been inspirational.
“He’s a big includer,” he says of the comedian. “He at some point told me his theory that running the set was going to be like running the student council in Shrewsbury and that like, he’d go from person to person and make jokes and make them feel good about being there.”
Interviewer as interviewee
As a reporter so accustomed to interviewing, it must be a luxury to be the one being interviewed? For Glass, not quite.
“No, it’s not a luxury! It’s a job being interviewed in the same way it’s a job doing an interview,” he speaks quickly, joking that he’s snapping, before he settles into a more truthful answer. “You want to be honest and say things worth printing — like it’s good karma to be a good interviewee — I feel like I experience the interviews too much as a reporter. I try not to repeat anything that I said to a different reporter.”