Sleepwalk With Me

I recently finished reading the book Sleepwalk With Me & Other Painfully True Stories by comedian Mike Birbiglia. Midway through the book, I saw the film by the same title. Both are based on true, personal stories from Birbiglia’s life—growing up, navigating relationships, struggling as a fledgling comedian and dealing with (or not) a dangerous sleepwalking condition.

I was first introduced to Mike Birbiglia’s work a few years ago through episodes of This American Life, to which he’s a regular contributor. Mike uses an observational comedic style that I really enjoy, sort of poking fun at everyday life and things society has come to view as totally normal. For example, here’s a great excerpt from the book:

At Catholic school a lot of your teachers are nuns, and they’re always talking about this guy Jesus who everybody’s afraid of but everybody loves, because he loves everybody. And a long time ago some people killed him, and it’s not totally your fault, and don’t be scared or sad, because he’s living forever, next to God, who’s his dad, even though he is also God. And also there’s this Holy Spirit part too, that no one really understands. But all three guys are everywhere, at all times, just in case you need to talk anything out.

And it’s funny how they roll it out to you when you’re seven. They’re like, “There’s this guy Jesus, and he totally loves you.”

And you say, “Oh, okay, great.”

And they say, “And you love him too, right?”

And you ask, “I’m sorry, do I know that guy?”

And they say, “you know, from the picture of the cross? That guy loves you…and you love him.”

It starts innocently enough, as innocently as man-boy love can start. Then it starts to get a little heavier. When you’re eight they just casually throw it out there: “You know, he died for your sins.”

The book and film are worth checking out. There were several moments during each that I found myself laughing out loud. There were occasions, however, when I felt for his former girlfriend, Abby, or thought to myself, Mike, now you’ve just gone too far. If you had stopped like two sentences ago, that would have been funny. But now, this is a little awkward.

But in many ways, Mike is awkward. And that’s what makes him so funny.

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