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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: My Girlfriend's Boyfriend

By Gaëtan L. Charlebois

To say I am a fan of Mike Birbiglia is a bit of an understatement.

I love recorded comedy (aside from the Wagner, there's more of it on my iPod than anything else) and I buy and download damn near anything. (That gets me in trouble, sometimes; ie: Dane Cook, the unfunniest fucking man in America.) On a whim, once, I downloaded a recording called My Secret Public Journal and I was absolutely hooked. This became the recording I'd turn to whenever I was sad because Birbiglia's embroidered true stories about his life were also sad—in the hysterically funny sense of the word.
I bought his other album, Two Drink Mike, downloaded his TV performances from iTunes and just this Christmas downloaded, and read in one shot, his book Sleepwalk With Me. I am subscribed to his blog, (My Secret Public Journal) and, one step away from stalking him, I get his Twitter feed. My heart was broken when, each time he came to town, I was laid up—so it was with almost school-girl excitement I finally saw his touring production of My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, playing until Saturday at the Gésu.

When Birbiglia does one of his shows with a through-theme, it is not standup comedy. He tells a story with a beginning, a middle and end. And about a thousand tangents. Eventually he comes back to his core story (in this case how he's had rather bad luck with girlfriends including two who kept second boyfriends on the side). And he doesn't tell his stories like some, careening from punch line to punch line; he lets silences happen, he underscores pathos by lowering his voice and allowing things to come to a halt. And there is pathos to spare, here.

But mostly there are moments of sheer, ecstatic hilarity, like when he takes a young date to a fair and he gets on The Scrambler with her, after having eaten far too much fairground crap). This was meant to be an important night...a night of a kiss, perhaps. But instead it turned into a spray of fairground salsa. Now I am not giving away a good joke. I am giving you a tenth of a good joke because there are always more circumstances, more characters and Birbiglia himself miming that fucking ride that ruined his life. I was laughing so hard I was choking and weeping and completely annoying the SO and everyone around me.

Much of the material in the show has appeared elsewhere (see list above), but brought together under the theme of the evening, and performed by an actor who exudes humanity and has a wide streak of self-deprecation like no other humourist in the field...well that's an hour beautifully spent away from winter and the woes of the Christmas credit card bill.

Click here for info on My Girlfriend's Boyfriend.


  1. Saw Birbigs in Milwaukee this past November and "The Scrambler" bit was hysterical. He is a different sort of story teller...Highly recommend seeing him in person!

  2. I went to see Mike Birbiglia last night and it was so boring, I actually left before the show was over. He is the most boring "comedian" I have ever seen. I have laughed harder at open mic nights than I did at his show last night.


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