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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

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

Mike Birbiglia’s new comedy special, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, proves what an amazing talent he has as both a storyteller and a comedian. Here he tells a great story, with wonderful detours and side roads but always coming back to the main thread at just the right moment. He even allows serious and sweet moments into his routine. The main story is his relationship to Jenny and how that has changed him. But the road he takes to get there is truly hilarious and often touching.

He starts by talking about how a few years ago everyone he knew started getting married. He starts with a somewhat general statement that I can relate to: “Sometimes when I think I am right about something, it can be a real source of tension between me and the person I’m arguing with, and the reason it’s a source of tension is that I’m right.” He talks about how he thinks marriage is insane, and mentions how fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. He adds: “That’s just first marriages. Second marriages, sixty to sixty-two percent end in divorce. Third marriages, seventy to seventy-five percent end in divorce. That’s a learning curve.”

But don’t worry – he can be romantic, like when he says, “From the moment I met Jenny, I knew I wanted to sleep with her at least once.” And: “I remember the first time I fell in love. It was in high school, it was that first time where you fall in love and you’re just like, ‘This is it, I found her, I’m seventeen years old and I’m done.’”  I love his material about failed attempts at kisses, and about seeing people making out. “Making out is just sloppy. It’s like watching a dog eat spaghetti.” He also mentions how the way women argue can be maddening. “That’s how Jenny argues things sometimes. She’ll just say, ‘That’s how I feel.’ And I’ll say, ‘That’s not an argument.’”

He also has some wonderful self-deprecating humor. “If I stare at the mirror, I get angry. Like I feel like I’m complaining about a bad call a ref just made. I’m like, ‘Come on! You’re blind if you’re leaving the house like that!’”

His bit about the Scrambler is brilliant, especially as he acts out the motion of being on that carnival ride. (I had a similar experience when I was a kid, trying to tell the guy to stop the ride each time we flew by him – unsuccessfully, as my friend proceeded to vomit onto us. I never went on that ride again.)

Of course, I love that he rips on Texas: “I was coming back from a five-day stint in Texas, which was awful, because it was in Texas.” And I love his rant against marriage, about bringing the government into a relationship, and how people who don’t believe at all in a particular religion will have the ceremony performed in a church.

He really only breaks once from his routine to directly address an audience member. He jumps off the stage to grab someone’s leg who is wearing no shoes. Only in Seattle.

This is a comedy performance that I think I’ll be returning to, as it’s really like a one-man play, with a true story arc and lots of wonderful moments along the way. In that way, it’s quite a bit different from most stand-up specials.

Special Features

The DVD includes a fifteen-minute behind-the-scenes documentary titled How To Make Whatever This Is. It begins with Mike Birbiglia on stage, talking about how he’d done this show so many times, and kept tinkering with it. Mike Berkowitz (Mike’s agent) talks to Mike about the show being good enough, and it being time to stop “fixing” it. There is footage of Mike Birbiglia on The Bob And Tom Show, as well as footage from an earlier performance of the show. Jen Stein talks about how the show has broken boundaries in her life. Mike talks about how it’s hard for him to leave this show behind; after all, this material is his life.

There is also some bonus footage. The first is a short bit cut from the show in which he interacts with an audience member, imitating the person’s pose in her chair. The second is a post-show question and answer session, in which he talks about his sleeping disorder and a bit about the performance. The third is Mike asking folks to turn off their phones at the beginning of the show. He does a great bit about how there is no customer service anymore, how it’s difficult to get a real person on the phone.

My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend was released on DVD on November 25, 2013 through New Wave Dynamics. The DVD is approximately 76 minutes. My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend was also released on CD, that disc being approximately 72 minutes. One thing that is cut is the bit where he points out the audience member who has no shoes or socks.

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