Mike Birbiglia is 'The king of cringe'
Mike Birbiglia has made a career out telling incredibly embarrassing stories. How he plunged the depths of his own romantic horrors for his latest show, ‘My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.’
Mike Birbiglia is no stranger to awkward situations. Having mined some of the worst experiences of his life for “Sleepwalk With Me,” his hit play-turned-book-turned-movie (eventually — they’re shooting this summer), it was only natural that Birbiglia shift from discussing his sleepwalking disorder to his failures in romance for his latest play, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.”
But Birbiglia does have a healthy sense of shame — oh, a healthy one indeed. He admits that the origins of his new show took years of marinating before being ready for public consumption.
“I tell this story that provides the headline of the show, the high school girlfriend story about Amanda, who tells me not to tell anyone that she’s my girlfriend. That was a story that I didn’t even tell until my late 20s,” Birbiglia explains. “I was deeply embarrassed of it. It’s in the time passage that I find the perspective for the stories.”
The 90-minute, one-man show has Birbiglia reliving several of his previous relationships, most of which hopelessly fail. But he’s clear on the fact that his life isn’t quite as bad as he can sometimes make it out to be.
“When you tell stories as your profession, people say, ‘Oh, it’s amazing, you’re revealing so much about yourself,’” Birbiglia says. “But in a way, you’re constructing the narrative of what you tell people and what you don’t tell people. So, you’re baring all, but you’re really just baring all of what you decide to tell people.”
“There’s a movement in comedy that I really like that’s toward more personal comedy,” Birbiglia says. “I think we’re in a post-Seinfeldian comedy climate. I think people are a little worn down by observational humor at this point because it’s kind of ubiquitous. It’s in commercials, it’s in sitcoms. It’s become so common that it’s not fresh anymore.”
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