Mike Birbiglia, sponsored by Campus Activities board, performed in Strong Auditorium Saturday night, Feb. 1

It’s easy to tell that Mike Birbiglia is a comedian.

From the second he took the stage in Strong Auditorium last weekend, it was clear that Birbiglia embodied the classic awkward but confident “funny guy” stereotype. He looks like everyone’s favorite aloof uncle; you can tell he hasn’t quite got his life together, but you love him nonetheless.

Currently on his 23-city “Thank God for Jokes” tour, Birbiglia is riding a wave of success following his 2012 independent comedy “Sleepwalk with Me.”

Although his Rochester date only sold enough tickets to almost fill the lower sections of Strong, Birbiglia delighted those in attendance with his uniquely intelligent brand of comedy.

Thankfully, Birbilia’s jokes were far from the current stand-up standard. Throughout his routine, he parodied everything from his less-than-perfect relationship with his wife to his sleepwalking disorder with a keen sense of wit and self-deprecation. It was evident that Birbiglia was comfortable being laughed at just as often as he was laughed with.

Birbiglia’s joke delivery style is lethargic in the best sense; he manages to walk the fine line between sounding bored and sounding intoxicated. Even when his punch lines were less than laugh-out-loud funny, it was still easy to crack up over his slow and calculated demeanor.

He explained his reasoning for avoiding explicit language in his routines but avoided the often uncomfortable uptightness of other “clean” comedians by not completely censoring his act. His vulgar slips and occasional perversion made him not only seem relaxed but incredibly relatable as well. Birbiglia knows he’s not perfect, but he’s fine with that and was more than willing to share his imperfections with others. Birbiglia also steered clear of jokes veering on the controversial, which offered a refreshing break from sexist, racist, and over-the-top sexual subject matter that plague stand- up comedy acts nowadays.

He went on to joke about his most infamous ethical disasters: dropping the f-bomb while on tour with the Muppets, offending a Catholic college while performing in a gym next to a “30 foot crucifix”, and causing yet another David O. Russell meltdown at the 2012 Gotham Independent Film Awards.

Although Birbiglia’s brand of humor might be clean, it is by no means soft. One of the highlights of his act came when he lampooned the hypocrisy in modern Christianity, pointing out that had Jesus been alive today, he’d favor government handouts and be considered a Jewish socialist, the “least popular modern demographic, especially among Christians.”

Birbiglia’s act was so cohesive that he sometimes seemed too funny to be real. There’s a certain cartoonish aspect to his personality that would seemingly make him a perfect fit for the role of a self-deprecating animated star; a feeling that, if drawn in caricature, he could easily be the next Homer Simpson or Fred Flintstone.

He expressed disdain towards those who are constantly nagging to hear jokes, citing a recent scenario in which his comic legitimacy was questioned because he behaved less than hilariously at a party. Little did those people know, he explained that in time, they were to be the subjects of his skits. “You’re the joke… later,” he remarked.

Before he put down the mic for the night, Birbiglia gave a shout out to his loyal Rochester fans by taking one final request. His last act was a classic, one of the first videos to come up when Birbiglie is searched on YouTube. “What I should have said…was nothing,” he began, giving the audience his priceless smirk. Since Birbiglia is an up-and-coming comedian, not everyone in the crowd knew the end of the joke. But regardless of their knowledge of the act, he sent the crowd home into the cold night feeling satisfied.

Fraumeni is a member of the class of 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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