Mike Birbiglia’s “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend”

Wildly popular comedian Mike Birbiglia graced the Camp Concert Hall stage at the Modlin Center for the Arts at University of Richmond this past Friday.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia’s one-man show, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, hits home for many of us with an adolescence full of questionable dating decisions. With a storyline more structured than a typical comedy show, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend follows Birbiglia in slow motion through one life-changing event involving his now-wife Jenny, stopping often for a related story about mistakes he’s made in other relationships. He’s always been fixated on being right, he says, and through these anecdotes, we get to see a man change.

Whoa, whoa, too many feelings! Luckily, Mike Birbiglia is one of the funniest comedians we’ve got. The This American Life regular performs his own style of stand-up peppered with a few dramatic elements, and his signature demeanor of cheerful self-effacement just gets more and more entertaining the farther along in his career he gets. Birbiglia gets right to the “Aren’t I such a bumbling idiot about this or that,” jokes without leaving us cringing and/or depressed like Louis C.K..1

This past Thursday night at the Modlin Center for the Arts, the guy got through his fairly lengthy performance without once bragging about making one of the smartest and most endearing videos ever to have been based on a joke about NPR. Nor did he plug his new film, Sleepwalk with Me, which humorously recounts what it’s like to have some major sleepwalking issues (and he should know). Instead, he walked onstage like a regular person, made a thousand off-the-cuff jokes about how everyone was late,2 and launched so naturally into his routine that we barely realized the show had begun in earnest.

I’d heard/seen the main story arc before, a few years ago on a This American Life live simulcast, so I knew some spoilers ahead of time. The scattered anecdotes, however, were familiar in a different way. From Birbiglia’s unfortunate stomach mishap on a carnival ride with his middle school crush to a confidence-destroying conversation with a high school girlfriend who asked that he keep their relationship secret, we laugh because we’ve all been there. Or, at least, most of us have. If you haven’t, the rest of us would like to see you outside for a sec.

You’ve missed your chance to see Birbigs in Richmond, but check out his film (who knows, maybe we’ll actually get it here one day), follow him on Twitter, and get some tickets for the rest of the Modlin Center’s season. They’re scouring the globe for good talent, you get to reap the rewards.

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  1. Who is one of my favorites. I ain’t afraid of no cringing depression! 
  2. Always check your tickets, folks. Just because a performing arts center typically starts its shows at one time, doesn’t mean that they won’t switch it up on you. 
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Susan Howson

Susan Howson is managing editor for this very website. She writes THE BEST bios.

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