A couple of things today before we get into the blog: 1, Merry Christmas to all of you out there who celebrate; hope you get everything you desire under your tree. 2, Like I’ve done the last few years, the last two blogs of this week, and the New Year’s Eve blog, will be “Best of Good News Friday” posts, where I look at all the stories I’ve featured over the past 50 weeks of Fridays and post my favorites again. I get great feedback from you readers when I do it, and it always gives me something positive to think about heading into the new year. OK, on with the show…
Mike Birbiglia is like a great restaurant hidden away somewhere deep in town, or a terrific book that only some people have read.
What I mean by that is, if you know his comedy and are familiar with his style, you love him and rave about him to everyone you know.
But the problem is, if you don’t know him, you’re in the majority. Birbiglia is famous, but not like Louie C.K. or Kevin Hart famous. He can probably walk into most rooms and not be mobbed, but he also probably can get a good table at most restaurants.
I’ve been a Birbiglia fan for at least a decade, since I first started hearing him on radio shows and in TV spots. He looks unassuming and doesn’t have any killer schtick or gimmicks; he’s just really freaking smart and really funny.
I’ve watched his movies and seen him on countless shows, but until Saturday, I’d never seen him live. But when I heard he had a new Broadway show out this winter, I knew I’d finally get to see him live.
And so Saturday the wife and I saw him live, and I knew we’d have a great time at “The New One” when, walking to the theater 30 minutes before showtime, we saw the star himself going in a side entrance not five feet in front of us.
“Have a great show Mike!” my wife yelled out. “Hey thanks!” he yelled back. That was fun.
As I expected, “The New One” was fabulous. Ostensibly, it’s about Birbiglia and his wife trying to have a child, then what life was like once their daughter was born, and how the first year went.
But really, the show is just Birbiglia doing what he does best: Telling relatable stories and making them hilarious. When he says stuff like “I’ve played in small towns, towns that weren’t even towns, cities that were Applebee’s with a dream,” I’m laughing out loud.
Birbiglia is brutally honest about why he didn’t want to ever have kids (after listing all his physical maladies and emotional issues, he says to his wife “you really want to put more of this into the world?”), and then tears-in-your-eyes crying funny about the transitions he and wife Jen had to go through once the child was born.
Honestly, I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time. Birbiglia is a master comedian who should be way more famous than he is.
If you’re anywhere near New York in the next month, I highly recommend “The New One.” Or check out any of Birbiglia’s work on YouTube.
**Next up today, my wife is a huge fan of musicals and while I don’t, ahem, share that passion, I know millions of people do so I thought this was definitely worth sharing. And I have to admit, it was superbly done.
James Corden teamed up with the stars of the new “Mary Poppins Returns” movie, Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda, for a fantastic tour through great musicals past and present.
The “Into the Woods” bit is hilarious, as is “The Wizard of Oz.” Relax and enjoy and then try not to sing at least one of these the rest of the day.
**And finally today, it is of course Christmas Eve, which for millions of Christians means waiting for Santa to come down the chimney, delivering presents and devouring cookies (hey kids, isn’t Santa hefty enough? Maybe leave vegetables if you want Santa to live a long, healthy life).
But for us Jews, Christmas Eve means one thing above all: Eating chinese food. So as I try to do every year on Christmas Eve in this space, I give you the brilliant “Saturday Night Live” sketch called “Christmas Time for the Jews,” which is hilarious and spot on.
Enjoy that lo mein, my fellow Members of the Tribe!