Laugh at the Little Aches and Pains of Everyday Life,
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This review is from: Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories (Hardcover)I have been a fan of Mike Birbiglia since listening to his piece about how running away sometimes works (included in this book) on This American Life. After that I downloaded both his comedy records, My Secret Public Journal Live and Two Drink Mike (Bonus Dvd), and enjoyed them immensely. So I was clearly looking forward to his book, although with a certain sobriety to forestall disappointment. You see, the secret about Birbiglia is that his material isn't what is funny: it's his delivery. When you break down a lot of the anecdotes from My Secret Public Journal, there isn't that much that is inherently funny there. What cracks you up is Birbiglia telling you about it.
So how did his stuff make the transition to the printed page? Quite well, I am happy to report. You get some of his old material, along with plenty of fresh stuff. Some of it is far more personal than anything he has ever done, except perhaps a piece (not present here) about a car crash he had some time ago. What surprised me was how different some of the stories sounded when reading them (as opposed to listening to them). A lot of the genuine pain that underlies these stories shines through a lot more poignantly. When you hear Birbiglia tell them as a stand-up or at a reading, he is laughing off the pain. When you read them, it is harder to giggle about stuff like a break-up or being rejected by girls. The sleepwalking anecdote that gives the book its title is a good case in point. Only after reading this do you realize that it isn't simply a funny story to tell your friends but rather a serious, life-threatening illness.
I hope the book sells well but not too well. When Birbiglia becomes a big shot, he will lose the perspective he needs to continue chronicling the minor humiliations of everyday life.