Anyone who knows me, knows I love, love, love Mike Birbiglia. He’s the funniest guy most everyone hasn’t heard of; but that’s about to change. And, no, not because of my review. But because he’s at that place in his career where he’s really taking off. He’s paid his dues growing up an awkward child, into an awkward adult, traveled the country doing standup in every venue imaginable (yes, even for a college study hall, while the kids were trying to study). He’s recorded a few comedy CDs, performed at some larger venues, like the Hollywood Avalon (where I saw him two years ago) and the Tempe Improv (where I saw him again last January). Last year, he had his own one man show, Sleepwalk with Me on Broadway and now he’s got a book, of the same title, that chronicles his life, including his issues with sleepwalking.

Birbigs, as he’s often called, hasn’t produced something I haven’t loved; and I expected this book to be no different. Thankfully I was right. His comedy is made up of great storytelling, and his conversational writing tone carries the same feeling. The only thing that would make reading the book better, would be to watch him tell the stories. He’s hilarious to both watch and hear. Because Birbigs is a storyteller and not a one-liner comedian, it’s hard to pull out any zingers from the book, but here’s my best shot at some of my favorites.

On his love of pizza:

“Pizza is probably my biggest weakness. I love pizza. I would marry pizza, but it would just be an elaborate ploy to eat her whole family at the reception.”

On his love of the Cheesecake Factory:

I simply can’t drive by a Cheesecake Factory without stopping. I love their chicken sandwich the size of a soccer ball and their piece of cake as large as an entire cake. I love the Factory’s generous portions. Their like, “We could sell you grilled cheese sandwiches for a buck fifty, or we could stuff a loaf of bread with three pounds of mozzarella and call it the Mozza Mountain.” And, hey, if the Factory says it’s one serving, who am I to question them? They’re making this stuff to factory specifications.

On his addiction to email (which I share):

I check my phone messages and email about forty-five times a day. I don’t even know what I am expecting to get in these messages. Maybe Visa will call and say, “We just realized that we owe you money!” or I’ll get an email from a high school classmate that says, “We’ve reconsidered and we’ve decided you are cool after all.”

On the multi-tasking ridiculousness of products and technology:

When you go to buy anything these days, the guy’s always like, “You know, it’s also a camera.” And it’s a slippery slope. Like one day I’ll go to the store to buy something and they’ll be like, “It’s also a camera.”

“I just wanted a grapefruit.”

“It’s a camera grapefruit. You take pictures of yourself eating the grapefruit, and then you poop the pictures.

“That is the opposite of what I wanted.”

But Birbigs comedy isn’t all pizza, cameras and Factory specifications.

Growing up, he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and in his 30s developed a dangerous sleepwalking condition that has required medical intervention. Even through these challenges, he’s able to keep his sense of humor. Upon being diagnosed with bladder cancer:

“The doctor found something in your bladder.” Whenever they tell you that, it’s never anything good like, “We found something in your bladder… and it’s season tickets to the Yankees!”

It’s really safe to say that I am probably not the most objective reviewer of Sleepwalk with Me. If I had any one complaint, I would say that watching him perform or listening to his comedy CDs is better than reading a book of his. But, if this is all the Birbigs I can get right now… I will take it.

Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 189