Based on his best-selling book Sleepwalk with Me, Sleepwalk with Me Live finds comedian Mike Birbiglia taking his easygoing storytelling style into “one-man show” territory, blurring the lines between standup and off-Broadway with pleasing results. The main story here is Birbiglia’s problem with sleepwalking, a problem which has put him in the hospital a couple times, once because of a tumble out a hotel window which is covered in the closing piece “The Missile.” Since this is Birbiglia, that’s the funny part, and every broken bone or odd occurrence are told in that Steven Wright-in-cute-pajamas style that has earned the man a loyal, laughing following. But now, there’s a trick. What makes Sleepwalk meatier than the everyday comedy album are the underlying issues that cause such funny trauma, including a hands-off attitude from the parents, leaving Birbiglia with a big ball of anxiety that has, over the years, grown into “The Hovering Jackal.” How the comedian gets from here to there would be certifiably masterful if he sounded as natural as he did on earlier releases. Here, he sounds a bit too familiar with the material, switching back and forth between comedy club and live reading mode, but it’s a small complaint, meant to leave room for any coming masterpiece. As it is, Sleepwalk with Me Live is a near masterwork, but more importantly, it’s a big step forward for Birbiglia and a fascinating exploration of standup comedy as theater.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by David Jeffries