Chaos Attraction

Mike Birbiglia

2014-12-12, 8:27 a.m.

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Okay, now that Stormageddon is over and it didn't mess up my area nearly as badly as it did the Bay Area (oh, the Berkeley drowned car photos), and all of my coworkers are back at work and things here at least are probably going back to normal, I'm going to post the entry I normally would have done yesterday.

Oh, and regarding Ugly Sweater Day: my post on that for the day is over here. I've already written about making one this season and I'll probably do it again later :)

The following event happened on December 10, 2014:

Its the most densely joke-populated show Ive ever done [Its about] what they mean to us and how we can get in trouble telling jokes but how, ultimately, they make us closer to people and are worth it for that reason. --Mike Birbiglia.

You'd think that when the STORM OF THE CENTURY is showing up, that people might not show up for a show. But as far as I could tell, attendance was good and the house was probably nearly full for the Mike Birbiglia show, "Thank God For Jokes."

He had an opening act (which seems odd for a short-ish show, but...hey, up to you, I guess), his friend Henry Phillips. I'm not sure what to make of this guy. I did laugh and so did the audience, but it was a little weird. Kinda like you're laughing despite yourself? I can see why these two would be friends, somehow. He brought a guitar and did some weird songs, mostly playing not very well with deliberately bad lyrics, then making a joke about taking a pill and becoming a better guitar player (then playing better). Very odd subject matter, like the song he did about his ex from 9 years ago being a bitch--to be fair, kinda sounded justified with the crack about homeless people, followed by her asking him for $50. I do remember he made a joke about "what are your favorite two things? cooking and (m-word), and what's the other one..."

After about maybe 25-30 minutes of opening act, Mike came out.
Happily since the Internet exists, I can point you to a few bits from the show that I've heard elsewhere so that you can check them out too. Like he did the Catsachusetts Mouseachusetts routine that was on This American Life's radio drama episode. I still think that one's a hoot, even if this time nobody's dressed up as a mouse on stage.

This review covers making fun of Larry the Cable Guy, saying "fuck" on the Muppet Show, telling jokes about Jesus at Catholic school, being arrested... He told about the time when he was 22 and got pulled over by a cop and realized as he pulled out his ID that it had expired 3 weeks ago. Do I point this out to the cop or not? He didn't...and then the cop asks him if he knew his license was SUSPENDED. Mike had no idea what this meant and was all, "Yes, no, uh, what's suspended?" Step out of the car, sir. You're under arrest. Mike was in a bit of denial about that too. So he got handcuffed and stuck in the back of the car, with an itchy nose, while the cop is making jokes with his buddies. Later the cop made an extra copy of his mug shot to hold on for when Mike becomes famous. How sweet!

Stuff I haven't seen on the Internet: Mike was talking about being booked at a Catholic school because his reputation is that he's not all that dirty of a comic (let me tell ya, he did swear in this one), and he pointed out that hey, some comics who never swear on stage turn out to be secretly criminals!

Another story he had was about how he had gotten on a plane with a chicken salad sandwich with nut bread, and then got told he had to stop eating it because a woman on the plane had a peanut allergy and it would go off if peanuts were even in the air. Mike was starving and asked if there was anywhere he could finish it, and the attendant was all, "The bathroom?" So Mike went in there and the bathroom smelled the way that bathrooms usually smell, which is fun to consume food in, and then he made cracks about having a fecal allergy.
Then he was all, "Almost everyone loves this sort of joke EXCEPT for the three people in the audience with peanut allergies. And they're all, "that's my life, man." Then he said a 15-year-old had asked him to sign his epi-pen. He asked the kid's mom how often they'd had to use it and she said 3 times. Then he's all, "I'm dedicating the show to this kid, he died... Just kidding!"

The last major part of the show was about a drama I hadn't heard of before: Mike was hosting the 2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards, and one of the honorees was director David O. Russell. I hadn't paid attention to this drama before, but apparently a video of him ripping the crap out of Lily Tomlin while filming I Heart Huckabees made it to the Internet. And Mike was so shocked/captivated by this that he made/got a transcript of the entire thing and ah...made it into a joke by reading aloud the transcript at the awards ceremony. If it were me, I probably would not have gone there. Anyway, David Russell gets up and stomps out, and some lady (I think she was the show booker) insists that Mike apologize, and they go try to chase him down and apparently don't get to talk to him. But in public when asked, Russell was polite about it. Mike finished off the show by saying that he'd called Nathan Lane ahead of time, read him the joke, and asked him whether or not he should actually SAY it. Nathan Lane's verdict was, "If it's funny...and it's true...then you gotta do the joke." The end. What a closer.

It was a hilarious show. People were laughing all the way through. I also think he did a really good job of using the theme of jokes. You don't always see that in comedian routines with names, but he handled it well. He especially loved to comment on how a joke has to take someone down and hurt their feelings, so...that's the price you pay, I guess.


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