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INDIEWATCH: Birbiglia delivers universally likable comedy ‘My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’

Mike Birbiglia's My Girlfriend's Boyfriend at Barrow Street Theatre. ©2011 Joan Marcus. (Photo by Joan Marcus)

I’m pretty new to standup comedy. In recent years, I’ve fallen in love with Patton Oswalt, John Mulaney and, of course, Louis C.K., but one comedian I’ve always been keen to is Mike Birbiglia.

He’s playing the Fargo Theatre on Friday, and to prep, I watched his latest special, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.” I’m happy to say it cemented my fandom.

I first heard his comedy on NPR’s “This American Life,” but seeing him perform is so much better. Like many comedians, he’s insightful, self-deprecating and intelligent, and his unassuming stature and boyish face add to his comedic execution.

In one bit, he likens making out to a dog eating spaghetti, and his imitation is horrifyingly funny. Later, he talks about a carnival ride that ruined his first kiss, as he spins in circles on stage.

Versus ongoing punchlines, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” is a personal narrative of Birbiglia’s relationships. His pacing is on point, and he plays off of the crowd wonderfully for effect.

In one bit, he says “The final red flag with Amanda is that she told me not to tell anyone that she was my girlfriend.” Slight groans in the crowd are answered with  “I know. I’m in the future also.”

Watching this, I was taken with how he shares embarrassment and injustices without a trace of malevolence. He talks about being T-boned by a drunk driver, and he stops to footnote this as “the culinary way of describing it,” and the kicker is his innocent-looking expression.

Birbiglia’s so raw, painfully honest and always at a PG-13 level in this film. It’s natural to relate to him as he reveals universally awkward and coming-of-age moments like being the last one in middle school to kiss, slow-dancing for the first time and the start of a new romance.

I laughed out loud consistently, rewound parts and was pleasantly surprised by this film’s ending.

I was moved to the point of tears, which seems the antithesis of a standup routine, but on the contrary, that made “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” more unique and likable.

If you can’t make Birbiglia’s show Friday, check this out. It’s definitely worth a watch.

Grade: A

“Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” (2013)

Starring, written by: Mike Birbiglia

Director: Seth Barrish

Time: 1:15

Rating: NR

Available: Amazon and iTunes purchase, Netflix Instant.

IndieWatch is a weekly review of independent film and documentaries.

 

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