This week I returned to New York after 5 weeks on the road. Last weekend I played the Wilbur Theatre in my hometown of Boston, which was thrilling, though, for a moment, uncertain. There was a blizzard and the governor asked people to stay off of the road, except in the event of comedy emergencies. So the show went on, but we decided that anyone who couldn’t get there safely could attend a make-up show in May. It was like a comedy snow day; we’ll just make it up at the beginning of summer.
These days it doesn’t seem like the meteorologists have any idea when it’s going to snow. The forecast for last weekend was “wintry mix”- which basically means, “We don’t know what’s gonna happen. We know what season it is…” And they know they’re going to get partial credit for the word “wintry.”
Last year when I was supposed to play Worcester there was a snow emergency. “Snow emergency” is a disconcerting term. When I was a kid a snow emergency meant that my brother Joe had stuffed snow into my pants, shirt and hat and had made me into a human snowman. And then I’d cry to my mom and she would yell at Joe. But while Joe would be getting yelled at he would make me laugh and then he’d say to our mom, “If he’s so upset, why is he laughing?” And it was true. I was laughing.
Because the distance between laughing and crying is not very far. Crying is when you’re so upset that your defenses are down and you just can’t keep it together. And laughing is when something is so funny that your defenses are down and you just can’t keep it together. Joe knew this, and he would use it against me to make me look like a hysterical crazy person.
After Boston Joe and I flew into Minnesota and drove to Fargo. As we were driving, there were probably 6 or 7—I’m not exaggerating—6 or 7 cars and tractor trailers just in snow banks on the side of the road. And I don’t think that was their final destination. They weren’t like, “I think I’m gonna take an ice-cold nap here on the side of the road!” We were just like, “Wow, we gotta watch the news and find out about this when we get there!” And then we turn on the news and there’s no mention of it. Apparently this is the status quo.
After Fargo we drove back to Minneapolis and settled into a hotel for a few days. Strangely, we didn’t have to go outside because they have “Skyways”- which are these weird post-apocalyptic hallways that connect the buildings downtown. It’s not a natural thing to have in a city. I think it means that the city is…uninhabitable. And I got lost so many times in these scary tunnels that I thought I was in an existential play. I was just like, “Wait, I was…ah, man…I’m gonna just rest here for a little bit. I guess I’ll just live at this T-Mobile from now on.”
But all the buildings don’t build skyways, so you can’t always get to where you want to go. So at one point when I was trying to get back to my hotel I just gave up and walked outdoors with no coat. It was 0 degrees. Fortunately, it was “mostly sunny.” But then the wind started blowing, or as I like to call it, there were ice bullets. And then I just started jogging. And I’m jogging towards my hotel in a button-down shirt and no coat and I’m just like, “I DON’T KNOW IF I’M GONNA MAKE IT!” If I had seen a cozy snow bank I might just have plopped down and taken a nap.
But I made it. And I did some really fun shows in Minneapolis and St. Paul. And this week the tour continues on to the Westbury Music Hall in Long Island – which is the home to my in-laws live as well as Theresa Caputo, the Long Island medium, who predicted the show will go quite well.
From there I head to Philadelphia, Foxwoods, Madison, and Milwaukee. “When is my Hawaii date?” you may ask. Not scheduled just yet. Joe Bags is still working on it. Until then I’ll be laughing/crying as I navigate the wintry mix.
And that concludes this week’s entry in my secret public journal.
I’ll see you around the building!
Friends in New England,
We seem to have a little storm going on. Nevertheless, the shows will go on tonight. If you are unable to attend due to inclement weather and unsafe driving conditions, there will be a make-up show announced soon, so nobody misses out. Thanks!
I have huge news that comes in two convenient parts. It’s like a Kit Kat bar of useful information (this analogy will not carry through). First, tickets have just gone on sale for my shows in New Orleans, Baltimore, Norfolk, Charlottesville, and Richmond!!
In other news, I have achieved a life-long dream. With the help of the talented people over at Blue Collar Press, I now have my own baseball card! It’s just like the real thing, except it’s much larger and therefore more impressive (take that, Roger Clemens).
Sorry I am not in mint condition!
Joe Bags will be selling these poster-sized baseball cards at my shows in Boston next weekend. If you don’t live in Boston but still enjoy novelty baseball cards, you can pre-order a hand-screened print here.
See you out there, kids! So far it’s been a blast. Let’s keep it going?
I just finished up the first week of my 100-city tour and I’m feeling pretty great.
A lot of people thought I was crazy to tour Michigan in January, including my wife, parents, and strangers, but I knew it was the smart thing to do. Fortunately my brother Joe rented us a giant SUV equipped with 2-wheel drive. That means two wheels could spin on black ice while at the same time the other two wheels could remain locked while sliding sideways over the black ice. And as we spun out through intersections and got stuck in Rite Aid parking lots across the state of Michigan, we enjoyed more rear headroom than most comparably equipped vehicles in our class. Plus, with my headphones on in the back, I could barely hear Joe crying and swearing as he drove.
Stop 1: Traverse City – it’s a strange sign when you’re driving to a remote location and NO ONE ELSE is driving in that direction. On the way in to Traverse City my brother Joe and I started to worry that this was some kind of setup. That we’d show up in this small town and there’d just be a couple guys in a pickup truck laughing at us, and then they’d smother us in blankets and throw us into one of those ice-fishing holes. Like instead of cow-tipping their thing is comedian-dunking.
Stop 2: East Lansing – Word to the wise, don’t say the word “Michigan” when in East Lansing – which is strange because East Lansing is in Michigan. You gotta say, “I love state,” so there’s no confusion with another university that may also exist in Michigan. Another word to the wise, visit their MAC Fitness Center because there’s a bar and restaurant in the middle of it. I ate chicken fingers while people all around me played basketball and tennis. It was the greatest workout of my life. Every gym should have a chicken finger machine. All that place needs is a few Xboxes and a hookah lounge and it would be the best gym ever.
Stop 3: Royal Oak, Michigan – Do yourself a favor, if you’re ever in this town stop by the Red Coat Tavern and enjoy an authentic British-style hamburger, something that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world! My only objection was that this place somehow glorifies the army we defeated in the Revolutionary War. Hey Michigan, you know the Red Coats were the other guys, right? Just checkin’.
Stop 4: Louisville: That Brown Theater is gorgeous and then after the show I hustled off to play with the basketball squad to defeat UConn. Great day overall, though it was strange that the tickets said another venue on them, causing much well-documented lateness.
Next stop: Salt Lake City: TONIGHT! It’ll be an awesome test to see how well a show called Thank God for Jokes does in a town that brought us the Bible, part 3! I just hope they are equally into jokes. Order tickets now, there are just a few left!
And that concludes this week’s entry in my secret public journal.
See you around the building!
Check out all of my upcoming “Thank God For Jokes” tour dates at birbigs.com/tourdates
It’s been quite a year.
I performed My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend in 20 cities across America and Australia, including a finale show at Carnegie Hall. Then I filmed the show in Seattle and released it on Netflix, iTunes, and birbigshirts.com.
Whoa. That’s a lot of stuff. And I literally couldn’t have done it without you guys. What I do is extremely specific and I really put my heart into it, but it’s what you guys give back to me that gives me the energy to keep doing it. And also gives me the energy to write a NEW show and perform it in, wait for it, 100 cities. (Stay tuned.)
But I want to take a moment to ESPECIALLY thank everyone who came out to my shows in THESE cities in 2013:
Coral Springs, FL
New York City
You guys have really made me feel welcome in these fine cities, and I want you to know that I am donating to food banks and/or social services in each of them.
If you’d like to join me in a year-end donation and receive one of my last 100 signed holiday cards, just donate $10 or more online to ANY CHARITY and forward the email receipt to HolidayCard@birbigs.com. I’ll send those cards out this week.
ALSO, if your charitable organization is interested in getting a pair of tickets to auction or raffle off for one of my upcoming 2014 shows, drop me and Joe Bags a line at email@example.com and we’ll try our best to make it work. I’ve set my artist comps aside for this in every tour city.
It’s an ALL NEW SHOW for 2014. I’ll meet you there. Thank God for jokes.
Just a quick note about my new comedy special and album, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.”
And I’m really proud of it. Truly. And I feel like you guys are a part of it. I performed the show 81 times off-Broadway, in 70 cities across America, then took it to Australia, Canada, and London. And for four years I honed this special into what it is today based on what was in my heart and what you guys were responding to. I wanted to make a special that was human and emotional and not just based on cultural references or cheap laughs. And you guys helped me with that by coming out to the shows and sharing the experience with me as it formed into what it became.
So thank you.
I’m releasing it today into the universe and all I can do is let it go. I really hope you’ll buy it. I hope you’ll tell your friends about it if you like it. And I hope you’ll write a review on Amazon or iTunes and add it to your playlists. So much of what I’ve been able to create is based on you guys supporting it and continuing to support it. I’m so grateful. Thanks, guys.
Hey friends across America,
I am going out on tour in 2014 and I’m trying to go EVERYWHERE.
That’s right, Fargo. No more tour announcements that leave you out. What’s that, Eugene, Oregon? Yes, you’re on the list too. Why the long face, Long Island? You’re on the list too! (Oh, sorry. You actually have a long face.)
The new show is called THANK GOD FOR JOKES and it’s all new stories about jokes and life and how jokes can get you in trouble in life. I think it’s the funniest show I’ve ever toured with so I can’t wait to come to your town.
Get your tickets today so you can sit closer to stage. I will be choosing 35 people per show in the first 10 rows to make out with me on stage during the show. (I’m kidding. I’m choosing 25 people per show.)
After you pick up tickets, head over to iTunes or Amazon or my store (if you want it signed) to pre-order my new CD or DVD “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.” It’s the perfect size for the age-old Christmas tradition where you hang your sock on the fireplace – which is, of course, the ultimate fire hazard.
Anyway, I’ll see you guys out there. I can’t wait. I mean, I can. But I don’t want to.
DATE CITY VENUE
1/15 Traverse City, MI City Opera House ORDER TICKETS
1/16 Lansing, MI Wharton Center ORDER TICKETS
1/17 Royal Oak, MI Royal Oak ORDER TICKETS
1/18 Louisville, KY Brown Theatre ORDER TICKETS
1/23 Salt Lake City Kingsbury Hall ORDER TICKETS
1/24 Portland, OR Newmark Theatre PRE-SALE 11/19
1/25 Eugene, OR McDonald Theatre ON SALE 11/18 at 10 AM
1/26 San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts ORDER TICKETS
2/14 Boston The Wilbur Theatre ORDER TICKETS
2/21 Fargo, ND Fargo Theatre ORDER TICKETS
2/22 Minneapolis Pantages Theatre ORDER TICKETS
2/27 Westbury, NY NYCB Theatre ORDER TICKETS
2/28 Philadelphia Merriam Theatre ORDER TICKETS
3/1 Foxwoods, CT Foxwoods Casino ORDER TICKETS
3/7 Madison, WI Capitol Theatre ORDER TICKETS
3/8 Milwaukee, WI Pabst Theater ORDER TICKETS
3/9 Grand Rapids, MI DeVos Hall COMING SOON!
3/19 Columbus, OH Capitol Theater COMING SOON!
3/20 Pittsburgh Carnegie Music Hall COMING SOON!
3/22 Wilmington, DE Grand Opera House COMING SOON!
3/28 Atlanta Buckhead Theatre COMING SOON!
3/29 Charlotte, NC Knight Theater COMING SOON!
3/30 Charleston, SC Charleston Music Hall COMING SOON!
Wanted to give you the heads up that this fall I’ll be doing a few club dates to put the finishing touches on my show for my 2014 theater tour.
I love comedy clubs and these club weeks will be some of the coolest shows I do, honestly. You‘ll see new stories and jokes that are really funny and ready to hit the road and you’ll see some stories that are insane and embarrassing and maybe never get to the stage known as “funny.”
Right after this photo was taken I was asked to leave this establishment.
Either way these club shows are super fun – because they’re intimate and raw and I always try to end with some requests – so I’ll do Roger Clemens Hates Me or The Scrambler or whatever you want to hear.
So get tickets for these shows right away – AND keep an eye out for the “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” concert film. It’s on its way.
Sincerely with love and hugs and kisses and Xs and Os,
Here are the next shows!
November 21-24 Nashville Order Tickets!
It’s just 5 days until I perform “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” for the final time at Carnegie Hall. Over the past 3 years I’ve obsessively written and rewritten this material to the point where, even if you saw the off-Broadway show in NYC, it’s actually quite different.
It feels cathartic to let go of all of this material and Carnegie Hall feels like the perfect place to do it; it’s where I saw my first big comedy show when I moved to New York in 2000. I don’t want to give anything away, but Sunday night might have some surprises.
So skip church and join me for the Birbiggest night of my life, and maybe yours.
Order your tickets now, and join me on Sunday.
Hello from London!
I’m having a great time here at the Sundance London festival, where we’re holding the European premiere of “Sleepwalk With Me.”
Beginning Sunday, April 28th, the film will be available for international download for just $5. That’s everywhere in the world except North America and Australia. So step right up, Japanese people, Norwegians and friends from the Ivory Coast!
AND if you paid more than $5 for the film and this announcement sort of angers you, think of all the confused people in the Guangdong province who only speak Mandarin but are desperately trying to enjoy the film.
So please, if you have friends outside of North America and Australia, please send them to Sleepwalkmovie.com.
On this trip to London I’m staying at a hotel – which is a nice thing. The last time I was here I tried to save money by renting a stranger’s apartment on Air B and B.
The odd thing about the place was that the shower had transparent glass on 3 sides. And two of those sides faced outside, which was the city. This place wasn’t in the country where you’d be like, “Here I am! No one around! My life is an Irish Spring commercial!” There are 8 million people in London. And as I’m taking the shower I can see other people in their windows- and they’re not taking showers. They’re checking emails and making breakfast.
I literally started to think it might be a prank, like this apartment was some part of a game show, and the first time I climbed into the shower some talk show host would jump out from behind the toilet and yell, “I’m Shanky Wiggins and you’re on Transparent Shower!”
And I’d be like, “Um, no thanks, Shanky!”
One really cool thing that happened the last time I was in London was that Boy George came to my show. Well, I invited him. My wife noticed that he follows me on twitter. And my wife and I are big fans of his.
I have a line from my first album that references a line from his song Karma Chameleon. It’s about gay marriage, and I say, “It’s insane that people get upset about gay marriage because everyone loves gay people when they write the song Karma Chameleon or star in the movie Top Gun. But then all of a sudden they want health care and everyone starts flippin’ out. But you know what’s gonna happen to these people who are flippin’ out? The karma’s gonna get ‘em. Cause karma’s a chameleon. It come and go. It come and go…ah whoa whoa.”
So Boy George comes to my show and my wife and I are at the theater bar afterwards and he comes up and he says, “Hi, I’m George.”
And I was like, “Oh wow. Hey. It’s an honor.”
And my wife jumps in and says, “He has a joke about you!”
And he says, “Oh really? What is it?”
And I just froze up. That joke was on an album from 7 years ago, so I only had a faint recollection of it…so I go, “Ummmmm….it’s like, ‘So karma’s a chameleon. It come and go…ah whoa whoa.’”
And that’s a version of the joke that doesn’t have a setup or a punch line. It’s basically just me repeating lyrics to Boy George that he himself wrote.
And Boy George tried so hard to laugh. He desperately tried to fill in the blanks of what might be a joke with some of those words. He was like, “Oh, that’s very good.”
These British folks are so polite, and I’m hoping that carries into the screenings of Sleepwalk with Me this Friday and Sunday. If you’re able to make the Sunday one, there’s a special Q & A with brilliant comedian Jimmy Carr – one of the best.
More later, friends! If you’re in New York, I’ll see you at Carnegie Hall on June 2nd!
Now, later and in 5 minutes,
After performing “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” more than 300 times on 3 continents and in 70 cities, I’m hanging up the collared shirt.
“The one in New York that’s so famous and you’re still Mike Birbiglia, right?”
“Are you sure there’s not another tiny Carnegie Hall?”
The idea came up 6 months ago when I was on tour in Santa Fe and my agent Mike called and said, “I think we might be able to do a final performance at Carnegie Hall.”
This made me very uncomfortable.
When I moved to New York City in June of 2000, my sister Gina took me to see Jon Stewart play Carnegie Hall. It was the first show I saw in New York. It was incredible. I laughed my ass off, but I really never thought, “That should be me.” I thought, “Maybe one day I could be the opening act,” And that actually happened. In 2006 I got to open for Jon Stewart at Merriweather Post Pavilion in front of 10,000 people. I remember thinking, “I do not deserve this, but I will take it.” And that’s how I feel about this: I do not deserve this, but I will take it.
When my agent called me in Santa Fe I was having a post show drink with my lighting designer Aaron and I expressed my trepidation. And he said, “You don’t do Carnegie Hall for yourself. You do it for your parents.” And he’s right. Incidentally my parents didn’t make it to my recent show in Worcester, Massachusetts, which is my hometown. I’m not angry, but I did think it was odd. There were no excuses, like, “We have another son performing in front of 2,000 people.” It was just, “We’re not gonna make it!” When you’re 70 years old, you can get away with excuses like that, partly because “we’re not gonna make it” could mean a lot of things.
But when I told my parents I was doing the final performance of My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend at Carnegie Hall, my mom said, “I think we can come to that.”
She thinks so.
I’ll take it.
By the way, when I told Ira Glass that I was doing this, he said, “Do you want me and the Monica Bill Barnes Dance Company to be your opening act?” I said, “That’s exactly what I want.” So Ira is going to be my special guest on the show.
So now it’s happening.
It will be a night to remember. I promise. I don’t deserve it, but I will make it seem like I do.
I’m at the airport heading to Fayetteville, AR. Is that right, AR? Or AK? Or is that Alaska? Either way I’m going to both this month.
I’m a bit disoriented as I just returned from Australia, which is so far away that it’s another day there right now.
Every day since returning from Australia I wake up at 4 or 5 AM, which is nice. I get up. There’s sun. I get a lot done, and at night I fall asleep at 6. I’m like a farmer with no crops, animals or pitchfork. When I find myself impressed by this, I just talk to my friends with kids who explain that this is what their lives are always like.
Australia was pretty incredible. You know how the Outback Steakhouse is always bragging about having no rules? That’s kind of all of Australia. They let me do the weather on TV. If you didn’t see it on my twitter feed or facebook, watch it here:
In most countries this type of behavior gets you arrested.
Turns out I don’t know anything about weather! But spinning around on a green screen was quite fun. The weather lady gave me this look a couple of times as if to say, “Are you really this dumb or is this a joke?” The truth is, I’m not even sure. I’d say it’s 50-50.
I got in some trouble tweeting in Australia because I tweeted a picture of a $7 bottle of water in my hotel room. I thought that was a little steep for something that covers 70% of our planet. Then, in an odd twist, the front desk decided to call me and ask me if I had enough water, because in addition to selling water for $7, they pointed out that they also have free small bottles of water. Then I felt bad and tweeted a retraction. I felt bad because the Australian Westin folks were very nice, but also the larger Westin company probably shouldn’t sell water for $7.That seems like a post-apocalypse price. I feel like water should only cost $7 when people are eating each other and really need something to wash each other down.
Another odd occurrence at the Westin was that I asked for a yoga mat from the front desk and when it arrived, it had 3 condoms in it. Apparently, they do a very different type of yoga in Australia. I twit pic’d that as well, but no phone call from the Westin management. I just don’t think that’s something anyone wants to discuss.
So now Sleepwalk with Me is out in all of the capital cities in Australia. We got some really exciting reviews like this and this. And the audiences there seemed to really dig it. If you’re in Australia or know anyone there, forward them this email. If you think I’m not famous in America, I can’t begin to explain how low my profile is in Australia. I’m most known for doing the weather.
Same goes for London. I’m premiering the movie there at Sundance London April 28th with a special Q & A with Jimmy Carr, one of my favorite comics in the world. That day it will also be available as a digital download across Europe and Asia on sleepwalkmovie.com for $5.
Thanks all the support , everybody. It means so much to me, and I’m working on the next movie, so stay tuned!
All my love,
Thanks for all the support you’ve given to my little film, Sleepwalk With Me. We played in 350 theaters across America, broke the IFC Center’s weekend box office record, and hopefully made a lot of audiences happy/sad/more happy. If you still haven’t caught the movie, you can order a signed copy from my online store, watch it on Netflix or get it on iTunes in the US and Canada.
But what about in Europe? Or Australia? Or other places where they speak English?
I’m working on it!
First up I’m heading to Melbourne and Sydney, which is kind of ridiculous because those places are not so close to each other. It’s like if someone came to the US and said, “First up I’m hitting Seattle and Atlanta.”
I love Australia. I love the people. I love the beaches. I love the accent – it’s INSANE and everyone has it. I even get it a little when I visit.
I also found out there are a lot of people from China who live in Australia. If you’ve never been there it kind of takes you by surprise.
A few years ago my wife and I were in Sydney and one day we hopped in the cab of this tiny, old Chinese man, and I said, “We’d like to go to Bondai Beach, please.”
And he turned around and with the thickest Australian accent he said, “Ya’ goin’ to Bondai Beach?!”
We were just like, “Um…you’re not supposed to talk like that. Are we in The Matrix?”
One thing that’s strange about performing in Australia is that it’s so far from where we are that when you’re performing on stage, some of the stuff doesn’t make sense to the people in the audience. Their life experiences are entirely different. So when you’re bombing there, you completely understand. You’re like, “You people are right. This is not relatable to you. You are 100% correct in not laughing.”
I have this one joke about cotton candy, where I say, “They invented it by taking sugar, which everyone knows is bad, but then they dressed it up, like insulation,” and I’m like, “I’m not sure what the selling point is there. Is it the sugar, or the insulation?”
And that’s a line that NO ONE laughed at in Australia.
So one night I asked the stage manager, “How come that cotton candy joke doesn’t work?”
And the stage manager said, “What’s cotton candy?”
And I was like, “Well, it’s this food at a carnival, it looks like pink insulation, but it’s made of sugar.”
And then he said, “Ah, you’re talking about fairy floss!”
It turns out they are conjuring up dental analogies in Australia to sell a product that is the worst dental product in the history of the world. It’s like if we decided to call cigarettes ‘lung vitamins.’
So the next night, and for all of my remaining shows, I would say, “I was at the carnival eating fairy floss,” and IT KILLED. I was just like a local comic.
So now I’m heading back to Australia with my movie, and I’m hoping the word for “pizza pillow” in Australia is “pizza pillow” and not “mozzarella head cushion.”
Thanks again for all your support, everybody. If you have friends in Melbourne or Sydney, PLEASE forward this email to them. I’m performing “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” as part of the Melbourne Comedy Festival (Pete Holmes will be there too!!) and also for one night at the Sydney Opera House! Also, Sleepwalk With Me is being released by Sharmill Films in 15 movie theaters across Australia!
I’m doing a live Q & A after 2 Melbourne screenings on March 31st and after 2 Sydney Screening on April 5th. Details below. Love you guys. And maybe I’ll see you across the world.
Pope Mike Birbiglia