Mike Birbiglia feels that when he first started in stand-up, he oscillated somewhere between two of his idols, Mitch Hedberg and Richard Pryor. He has gradually moved away from short observational gags, though, and into compelling and hilarious storytelling. He regularly contributes to Public Radio International’s This American Life (heard locally on WVXU/WMUB) as well as the non-profit storytelling project The Moth (which also has a podcast).
“I think it’s sort of what I was meant to do,” he says. “But it took me going through various stages to get to it.” Today Birbiglia has a sizeable and loyal following, something he finds somewhat surprising.
“It’s funny,” he says, “I don’t have a sitcom, I’m not in movies, I don’t have the traditional things you would expect someone to have to sell out 1,000-2,000 seat (venues), but people are coming.” And he couldn’t be more grateful.
“I’m probably one of the few performers who really likes my fans, not just that they exist, but when I meet them I’m like, ‘These are cool people!’ ” That’s a view further cemented by his obsession with Twitter. Often Birbiglia will invite fans to send him jokes on a particular topic, everything from Jesus using Twitter to eating at chain restaurants. “That’s another instance of my fans being really funny,” he says. “I (laugh) my ass off from one joke on Twitter. That’s something, when your fans can write the jokes. That’s a good sign.”
Mike Birbiglia performs at Go Bananas Thursday-Sunday. Tickets are $22. Get showtimes, tickets and find nearby bars and restaurants here.