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Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories Hardcover – October 12, 2010

4.4 out of 5 stars 193 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Comedian Birbiglia, frequent contributor to public radio’s This American Life and The Moth and author of the blog My Secret Public Journal, has the ability to remember a lot of things most of us would just as soon forget. Lucky for us, in this memoir Birbiglia recalls the events leading up to his earning the childhood nickname “Tinkles” (though you might be able to guess how it happened), and he tells the story of how, instead of bestowing his first kiss on his middle-school crush, he tossed his cookies at her feet. He’s now, hopefully, cashing in on the demoralizing dues paid in his youth and early career as a stand-up comic—readers will recognize him from the late-night circuit and Comedy Central specials, and the book itself is an extension of his one-man show. Charming, brainier than he’d probably admit, and frequently poignant in spite of himself, Birbiglia throws together an alternately rollicking and warm handful of stories; the lengthy title story, of his struggle with a sleep disorder, is as fascinating as it is hilarious. --Annie Bostrom


“Mike Birbiglia was always a very funny guy who told stories onstage. But in the last two years it's been inspiring to see the stories get bigger and more complicated and emotional as he turned himself into a real storyteller and—with this book—a real author as well. These are deeply relatable, totally engaging stories. They're as moving and amusing as they come.” —Ira Glass, host and producer of “This American Life”

“Mike Birbiglia can write an entertaining yet soulful story in his sleep—that and jump out of motel windows.” —Sarah Vowell, author of The Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation

“First, know that this book is well written and funny. Now, know that I hate cynicism. Hate it. This book is the opposite of cynicism. I love Sleepwalk With Me.” —Jeff Garlin, Co-creator and Co-star of Curb Your Enthusiasm

“Mike Birbiglia is a good friend of mine but I'm still really happy when weird, bad things happen to him because I love hearing the stories.” —Seth Meyers, head writer and host of Weekend Update, Saturday Night Live

“Funny. Very funny. Birbiglia is the child Woody Allen and Bob Newhart never had—please don't try to picture that 'encounter.' Smart and self-aware, with just enough perspective on his quirks and issues that you don't have to feel too sorry for him...as you laugh at and/or with him.” —Bob Odenkirk, creator and star of HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David

“Mike Birbiglia has always made me laugh and so did this book. No one explains their insanity as sanely or as honestly or is as funny as Mike. If you think you’re crazy, this is the book for you. It’s a good thing the kid is a talented writer and comic or he’d be screwed.” —Lewis Black

Sleepwalk with Me is so funny, inspired, and jealous-makingly well written, I am beginning to suspect that Mike Birbiglia MAY ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN AWAKE WHILE HE WROTE IT. This changes my whole worldview.” —John Hodgman, author of More Information Than You Require

“Insightful, heartfelt, and comedic—what more could you want from a book? Mike Birbiglia is a unique and wonderful new voice in American theater and letters.” —Jonathan Ames, creator of HBO's "Bored to Death" and author of The Extra Man and Wake Up, Sir!

Sleepwalk With Me is about the things that keep us all up at night: love, family and growing up. In equal parts hilarious and moving, this book should cement Mike Birbiglia’s status as a national treasure.” —Andy Borowitz, author of Who Moved My Soap: The CEO's Guide to Surviving Prison; The Bernie Madoff Edition

“Mike Birbiglia is a great storyteller, just as funny on the page as on the stage. These comic gems strung together create a hilarious and touching memoir of growing up awkwardly and finding his way in the cruel world of stand-up. An original wit who raises self-deprecation to an art form, and always leaves you thinking and laughing." —Nathan Lane

“Mike Birbiglia has crafted a genuine rarity—a boisterous book you want to listen to, quietly.” —Patton Oswalt, author of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Sleepwalk with Me is not your typical comedian-writes-book book. It's something else. It's laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end, and it's a truly fascinating and bizarre story about a guy with a very real and a very unique problem. It completely blew me away." —Michael Showalter, host of Michael Showalter Showalter and author of Mr. Funny Pants

“Mike Birbiglia is a brilliant comedian with a completely original point of view and an endearing stage presence. And somehow, he has taken this stage presence and turned it into a book presence. Sleepwalk With Me is an amazing read—funny, insightful, heartbreaking, uplifting, terrifying at times, and very, very funny. Yeah, I said funny twice, but that’s because it’s really funny.” —Will Forte, writer and cast member, Saturday Night Live

“Mike Birbiglia might be the best comedian of our generation: smart, honest, and always painfully funny. He’s the Rembrandt of awkwardness.” —Michael Ian Black, author of My Custom Van

“If you read only one book this year, I wouldn't say you're an avid reader. That said, I truly believe that this should be the book.” —Alan Zweibel, Thurber Prize-winning author of The Other Shulman

“Mike is my favorite kind of hero in his stories: always self-aware, usually awkward, sometimes sad, but never cynical or bitter. The truths he unpacks from his life ring like a bell.” —Adam Savage, co-host of Discovery's "Mythbusters"

“Mike Birbiglia should be particularly commended on his sleepwalking story which is most responsibly written, turning a non-funny situation into one of hilarity, and legitimizing such occasionally injurious behaviors as a normal part of human existence unrelated to psychiatric disorders.” —Mark Mahowald, M.D., author of Parasomnias

"Sleepwalk With Me is a delightful stroll into the charming, intelligent and accessible mind of Mike Birbiglia." —Kristen Schaal, comedienne and co-star of Flight of the Concords

“I was terrified by how much I related to Mike Birbiglia's stomach churning, embarrassing stories of childhood, sex, and more. With writing that is fresh, starkly direct and all his own, he exposes his real life experiences—from the mundane to the extraordinary—in ways that made me laugh out loud at every page. So much fun to read…just be ready to cringe in self-recognition.” —David Wain, writer/director of Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer, and The State

“When Mike Birbiglia struts and frets his hour upon the stage, he is able to convey the pathos, longing, and bittersweet confusion that make being human such devastating and fantastic fun. Birbiglia's ability to translate this singular comic persona into seamless, Pringles-addictive prose is an even more radical achievement. You will want to play in Mike's childhood home, experience his delayed adolescence, and walk lucid through his dreams.” —Lena Dunham, writer and director of “Tiny Furniture”

“Gas station pizza, chain-restaurant bottomless sodas, getting engaged with absolutely no intention of getting married—and his forever funny habit of sleepwalking/fighting/karate-kicking/escaping from Brad Pitt—make Mike Birbiglia's book unendingly hilarious and charming. Sometimes you laugh aloud, sometimes you spit out whatever it is you’re sipping, sometimes you have to just put the book down because you're laughing hard enough to pull a neck tendon. Buy it. And buy another one for a friend.” —Denis Leary

"Sleepwalk with Me is so funny, so smart, and so full of self-deprecating wit that for a second I thought I was reading one of my own books.” —Alan Zweibel, Thurber Prize-winning author of The Other Shulman

"Charming, brainier than he’d probably admit, and frequently poignant in spite of himself, Birbiglia throws together an alternately rollicking and warm handful of stories; the lengthy title story, of his struggle with a sleep disorder, is as fascinating as it is hilarious."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (October 12, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439157995
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439157992
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (193 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,193 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is a book you're going to love. If you're a fan of Mike from his many venues, his CD's, Off Braodway show, Comedy Central or late night TV appearences, then this is a book you need to get. If you don't know Mike this is a book that will get you searching for his old CD's. Mike is a keen observer of the human condition, much like Seinfeld or Larry David without the narcissism or meanness. He seems to stumble, sometimes literally, into everyday situations and sees the irony and absurdness in human interactions. He takes these events and weaves them into stories that will have you laughing out loud, so you need to be aware of your surroundings if you're reading this book in public. He has perfected the awkward character, probably because he is an awkward character, who says just the wrong thing at the wrong time, or who finds he's one beat too late, but his sincerity and honesty will have you rooting for him. I loved this book and I think you will too.
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By Burnzieny on October 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got this book because I had seen Mike's live show and was blown away. The book does not disappoint. It's jam packed with even more Mike hilarity. He's is one of the funniest people alive, and is also whip smart. He has you laughing out loud one moment, then moved almost to tears the next. Great, great stuff.
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Format: Hardcover
I became a fan of Mike Birbiglia after hearing a handful of his stories on This American Life and The Moth. But before I could get around to checking out one of his albums or seeing one of his performances, Sleepwalk With Me was published, so I picked it up expecting great things. And in some ways, it is great. Just not quite as great as I expected.

In the AV Club interview that persuaded me to buy the book, I took notice when Birbiglia explained that his writing's guiding principle is that it not be about him so much as it be about the audience. And indeed, having been born into a very Catholic family in a northeastern suburb in the late '70s, much of this book is about me. But somehow I find the childhood anecdotes that make up its first half to be so familiar as to be uninteresting. Acting mostly as a character witness, they provide a good framework for what's to come, but despite their relatability, they are generally inessential. It is with Birbiglia's more unique adulthood experiences in the book's second half that the pages really start turning. The titular story of his sleep disorder, a strong finish, is worth the price of admission all by itself.

Birbiglia's self-awareness, gift for mixing humor and candor, and total lack of cynicism make this an engaging read throughout; I just wish it was less uneven. It's a good first book that I'm confident will lead to a great second one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off I'd like to say that even though I was a Birbiglia fan before this book came out, I am a very stingy person when it comes to money. The only reason I bought it was because it was cheap on Amazon. And thank God it was. This book was awesome. I'd heard a couple of the stories on This American Life and on an NPR promo. He also includes larger stories in his life that give you the full story behind some of his jokes, the "like fun" comes to mind as well as something in my bladder joke he does. But these are entire stories taking up huge chunks of chapters, so it's not like you've heard all of it and he's rebranding his jokes. Of course if you saw the Off-broadway show with the same title then you have heard it all.
What I like so much about this is the same thing I like about Birbigs' comedy. It's not like every other comic where he provides observational commentary or rants on something for ten pages. To know this guy's comedy is to know the actual guy Mike Birbiglia because most of his comedy is based on personal and embarrasing things. He reveals a lot about that, which is actually a recurring theme in this book, and sometimes you feel bad for/with him and other times you can't help but laugh out loud at a book. The narrative's very readable to the point where you can almost hear his voice reading it to you. It's more than a comedian writing about embarrasing stuff to make us all laugh. It's an entire insight to his life and creates a deeper more shared experience with the reader.
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Format: Hardcover
I have heard a lot about Mike from a friend so I looked him up online and found his appearances on Letterman and routines from comedy shows. I also listened to one of his segments on this American Life. He has some hilarious jokes and now I am a big fan. I bought the book to gain some insight into his life and into the life of a comedian. How does somebody want to become a person that tells jokes for a living? Where does a comedian get his material? And then what is it actually like to be comedian?

This book is great. It is easy to read and laugh out loud funny in many chapters. Mike also touches on a lot of those topics I was wondering about. He also touches on some topics I definitely would not touch upon especially with anybody else in the room. Definitely worth reading and looking forward to seeing one of his shows.
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Format: Hardcover
Sleepwalk With Me... laugh with Mike Birbiglia!!!

I am old enough to be Mike's Mom, but sadly, I am not! I do have two children of my own that are about Mike's age. What does that have to do with Sleepwalk With Me? I'll tell you later!

Now... about the book!

Mike's a great storyteller. I have listened to his CD's and even seen him perform on Letterman and at Caroline's in NYC, so I know! I am absolutely delighted that he writes as well as he performs!!!

I ride the NYC subways and reading helps me pretend I am somewhere else. So, I read SWM and while reading a story about his Catholic childhood... I had to look away because I was laughing so hard. When I looked back I thought I was going to laugh my head off...right there on the #1 train! For a moment, I was just another one of those subway-riding crazy persons...a happy crazy person!

You find out in SWM, Mike's not only HILARIOUS, he's inspirational! Mike shares his "on the road" and "his rise to the top" stories, too.
It seems to me that Mike's success is his, home-grown style of storytelling. AND that makes him the funny guy he is. It's his gift to us.
AND... he works blissfully hard at his sharing his gift...and this is where my 2 kids fit into this review...

My two children are both working artists with the vision of sharing their gifts and talents and vision with the world! They too, like Mike, work blissfully hard.

We all work hard, but we need to laugh and be entertained. Artists do that with their lives! Hooray for artists! Hooray for, Mike!

Mike has what it takes to be funny and share it with anyone who will listen. Now you can read it at your leisure, on the beach or like me, on your ride home to or from work.

We all need a few good laughs!!! Read this book.

Laughter is the cure for EVERYTHING. Mike's got the cure
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