I Want to Have Sex With Hot Nerdy Comic Mike Birbiglia, But I Just Interviewed Him Instead

Everyone’s favorite “This American Life” star on getting notes from Lena Dunham, what hanging out on the regs with Ira Glass is like and his ridiculously well-reviewed new movie “Sleepwalk With Me.”
Publish date:
September 7, 2012
lena dunham, mike birbiglia, ira glass, this american life

Have you ever done anything crazy when you sleepwalked? Adorable funny comic (who I totally don't have a thing for because he is married so whatever) was so stressed over the social pressure to get married to former girlfriend that his anxiety manifested into sleepwalking, which eventually led to him jumping out a hotel window. Which led to a one-man show. Which led to a "This American Life" story. Which led to a play produced by Nathan Lane. Which led to a movie produced by Ira Glass called "Sleepwalk With Me" that just opened last weekend nationwide and is crushing it review-wise, which is cool because initially test audiences were brutal, Birbiglia and Glass ended up fighting all the time and yeah, things didn't look so good. But now they're great! And you should see the movie. Like this weekend. Because it's awesome.

Mandy: You are what I would call a comedy crush, but alas, you are married. Your wife must have a pretty good ego. I'm guessing lots of girls get swoony over you?

Mike: I've never witnessed this. Next question!

Mandy: Does your wife travel with you on the road? Now it kind of sounds like I'm threatening to kidnap you in case she is gone. Don't worry, Mrs. Birbiglia. Also, she is cute. I like your red carpet pics.

Mike: Well, first of all, thank you. I'll pass on that compliment to Mrs. Birbiglia, though her name isn't "Mrs. Birbiglia" because what person in their right mind would take the last name, Birbiglia. Jen comes on the road with me to places that are the more fun locations. For example, right now, we're together in Berkeley, CA.

Mandy: In "Sleepwalk With Me," a central part of the plot is your uncertainty about getting married. What made you change your mind, and was it a different girlfriend? And is your former girlfriend totally mortified that she didn't get the ring but became the subject of your big fab movie? Are you guys still friends? How much are you hating my rude questions right now?

Mike: My ex-girlfriend actually really loved the movie. She saw it at BAM Cinemafest and has always been really supportive. We've always been really supportive of each other. There's a more elaborate answer to the question of how I ended up getting married on this episode of This American Life called "Return to the Scene of the Crime," where I basically say that, "I still don't believe in marriage, but I believe in Jenny, and I've given up on the idea of being right." (This is expressed more clearly in that episode.)

Mandy: Why do you think so many comics are perpetual bachelors?

Mike: I think comedians by nature are loners. That's the reason there's no comedian union organizing. Comedians interact with the world in a very unique and sometimes problematic way -- though some of them are in good relationships!

Mandy: You and your wife hang out with Ira Glass and his wife a lot. Do you guys just freak out that you are hanging out with one another and then say constantly, "And that's when it hit me," and dissect narrative themes? Is there a lot of competition to have moments of realization as you drop a fork or go for more water or touch hands delicately over the rice?

Mike: Obviously, we're constantly having moments of realization, and we always bring a indie pop band to underscore what we're saying live.

Mandy: You were so fucking funny on "Girls" as the squeamish corporate office guy who turns Lena Dunham away when she makes the ill-timed rape joke.

Mike: The way I ended up doing that scene in "Girls" was that I think she just asked me to do it. I think I was doing a bunch of the staged table reads for the show and that was one of the parts I played. And it got a lot of laughs in the table read so after I did it they asked if I wanted to do that in the show, and I said "Sure!" It's funny because when I moved to New York 12 years ago I did a lot of temp work, and I was an awful, awful office temp. I would fall asleep and constantly be late and was just really irresponsible -- nothing like the character. So I had to channel a lot more responsible business types who I went to college with.

Mandy: I've read elsewhere that you and Lena are friends, and she actually badgered you that you just needed to make your new film "Sleepwalk With Me" already. Is she an inspiration to you? What is your biggest critique of "Girls" that you haven't yet mustered up the courage to tell her? xoJane is a good way to work through this kind of stuff.

Mike: My biggest critique of "Girls" is that it doesn't have more of the squeamish corporate office guy. Kidding. Lena was a huge inspiration for making this film. She gave me a lot of notes, both in the writing phase and also in the edit. She came in on the final day. In terms of "Girls," I'm just very impressed by it. I really enjoy it and hope it will be on for 10 years.

Mandy: Marc Maron looks pretty great in the film "Sleepwalk" as a comedy Svengali guru teaching you how to find the funny. How much truth is there to this in your real life? You guys seem to kind of out-man-crush each other whenever you do "WTF" episodes. It's very comedy nerd bromance circle jerky in the best possible way. I forgot my question. Whatever you want to say about Maron, go.

Mike: Marc and I have a very longstanding and complicated friendship, which dates back to the first few months that I moved to New York City. And if you want to hear more of that, just listen to those two episodes of WTF -- the 200th episode and the first episode I was on, whatever the number is.

Mandy: What annoys you the most about women? What do you like the most about women? You can just say "pass" or "Nathan Lane." Both will suffice as safe words.

Mike: Nothing comes to mind. But I think the gender related issue that I shake my head at is that sometimes people will make the statement that men are funnier than women, or that women aren't funny, or whatever people say. I just think it's kind of a preposterous concept because I think that just people are funny. People, in all of their flaws and their mistakes, are what is funny. So the idea of limiting that to a gender is just wrong headed.

Mandy: If you could have sex with one scene in your movie because it is just that poignant and good which scene would it be? And do you also find Ryan Gosling an empirically good-looking man in a hetero-normative appreciative way? Who would play you in the Lifetime movie about the making of "Sleepwalk With Me"? Who would play you in the movie of you doing this interview?

Mike: There are four questions, here, you lunatic!

1. The sex with a scene question would go to the pizza pillow scene. First prize.

2. Ryan Gosling is tremendously attractive, and I'm completely confused by but also simultaneously enjoyed the movie "Drive." And I use the soundtrack to make boring parts of my life more interesting, like brushing my teeth.

3. Who would play me in a Lifetime movie? Maybe my brother, Joe, because we look similar.

4. Who would play me in the movie of this interview? Either Ryan Gosling or Dominick Dierkes.


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