Day: November 11, 2008

Review: Mike Birbiglia in “Sleepwalk With Me”

I have to preface this review…with two thoughts: 1) Mike Birbiglia told me tonight at his opening-night party that I need to come back and see his show again because he made changes even in the past week. And 2) Sometimes in comedy you may see a performer so many times, that it becomes difficult to process the performance for what it is. That happened with Mike Birbiglia and me earlier this year. We crossed paths so often in the spring and summer, that by the time I saw his rough version of what would become his off-Broadway one-man show in Montreal, old jokes and new jokes and stories all kind of blurred in my head. Thankfully, for both of us, we took some time off from each other, and when I caught a preview of Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me two weeks ago, not only could I see how much work he’d put into his show, but with fresh eyes, I could see how it all fits together now. Sleepwalk With Me opens its limited engagement tonight at The Bleecker Street Theatre. The stage is set up for dreaming, with a deep blue floor and wall offering reflective views of the comedian as he talks, save for one cracked hole in the wall that looks as though someone had yelled, "Kool-Aid!" Birbiglia emerges through the hole and wisely warms...

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B.J. Novak and Friends, at Town Hall

It might be easy to forget that B.J. Novak is a stand-up comedian, because he’s still in his 20s and pretty much everyone knows him as the writer/producer/actor from NBC’s The Office. At Sunday night’s "B.J. Novak and friends" show at Town Hall to close out the 2008 New York Comedy Festival, the biggest applause from the audience came for mere mentions of the sitcom, Novak or his friend from the show, Mindy Kaling. When Paul Rust opened the show with his "solo performance piece," aka "Salvation Through the Ring," aka his mimed tribute to a popular morning children’s television program, then promptly disappeared, the crowd didn’t quite know what to expect on this night. Not to worry, though, as Novak’s friends also included college chum Dan Mintz, who seemed more at ease in his 15-minutes of absurd one-liners than I’d seen him in a while (perhaps New York City is growing on him), and John Mulaney, who hosted the show and provided more than a half-hour of funny at the start and also in between acts. This could have just as easily had been this year’s "Young Comedians" special, if HBO still was in that business. I wish Rust had done more to showcase his talents, and wonder why Simon Rich only performed for a New York minute by reading a very short tale about firehouse dogs. Kaling...

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