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They’re Dying of Laughter at Mike Birbiglia’s Show

Emilio Madrid

The woman in the audience could not stop laughing, and when she stopped someone else started off. Curls of laughter, eruptions of giggles rippled throughout the theater. Mike Birbiglia gestured futilely, mock-furiously at the scattered transgressors, and told them off. Had they no respect? The woman’s laughter became little clotted gasps. She did not stop, and suddenly everyone was laughing.

Birbiglia had been not-really-trying, not-really-fruitlessly, to see if the Vivian Beaumont Theater could fall silent in memory of a man who died. It was a deliberately self-sabotaged task. This was the joke. And, looking around the theater at that moment was illuminating in another respect. One could see how we laughed. One could see the craft and effect of a joke, the mechanics of how humor works. It was both yet another masterfully executed Birbiglia comic-set-piece, and also a snapshot of humor as a collective experience in real-time.

Birbiglia’s last stage show, The New One, received the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for Best Solo Performance, and became a Netflix special. Like that wonderful show, The Old Man & the Pool (to January 15, 2023) is directed by Seth Barrish, and cleverly marries an epically large Broadway stage with the nuances of a storyteller who connects intimately with the audience. This is very consciously theater, not stand-up, but just as amiable and meandering as Birbiglia’s fans would wish.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Source: They’re Dying of Laughter at Mike Birbiglia’s Show

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