There isn’t much that Mike Birbiglia keeps to himself. “Often, the stories I tell are the ones that make me really uncomfortable,” admits the comedian and “This American Life” contributor. “A lot of times, I’ll be telling a story and preface it with, ‘I’d never say this one on stage’ — and then it ends up on stage.”
In “Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories,” Birbiglia collects these frequently blush-inducing, occasionally touching and always hilarious happenings in his first memoir of sorts. While there’s nothing graceful about the incidents — he opens the book with an apology to his parents, jumps right in with a story about going to the bathroom under a tree as a child and his first kiss wasn’t pretty — Birbiglia’s trademark sneaky sincerity still creeps in.
“I try to tell stories that are kind of meaningful to me and stick with me,” he says. “If a story sticks with you, it’s often worth telling. There’s probably something oddly unresolved about it.”
His sleepwalking stories continue to stick with him: Despite keeping the disorder under control with medication and mining it for endless jokes, he still doesn’t hit the pillow confidently. “On a day-to-day basis it’s scarier than funny,” he says. “There’s always some small fear of it. When you have the experience of falling asleep and thinking you’ll wake up in a bed, but then you wake up bleeding on a motel lawn, it’s scary.”