I confess I should’ve been doing homework, okay? But I couldn’t help myself. After watching his two features in the span of a month and a half, I’d settled into a comfortable relationship with the comedy of Mike Birbiglia. It’s really relaxing to listen to. His shows have an intimacy and a personality that is unmatched in the comedy world. His latest special is no different.
Titled Thank God for Jokes, Birbiglia’s newest special goes anywhere and everywhere he feels comfortable. It’s clear he’s worked out his material thoughtfully and carefully as he always does. You just want to listen to him tell his stories – he’s so good at it. What’s great is that he’s crafted all his comedy to the degree that they’re not always such traditional “jokes”. They’re all stories – funny ones – and you can’t help but laugh as he tells them in his Birbiglian way. Of course, though, he’s got such a smart sense of awareness about it all — his observations and witty comments come like Vin Diesel — Fast and Furious.But don’t worry, the jokes are better than that one I just made – the laughs are aplenty in this one, so it’s worth it. This special is framed around his hosting of the 2012 Gotham Awards but he goes on tangents — suspended licenses and nut allergies are just a few of his many targets. Of course, targets are a hot button topic. What can we make jokes about? What can’t we? Birbiglia’s awareness comes up once again here and it’s an interesting reminder to us all about the importance of comedy.It’s also clear Birbiglia knows how to keep focus — he always wraps it back together with a callback joke and he always comes back to the Gotham Awards. Stories are foundational for comedy and segues are always important. The way he uses the Gotham Awards as a diving board is, frankly, brilliant.As I mentioned earlier, observations are some of the pillars for good comedy — much of comedy comes from such simple observations. And as Birbiglia brings up the Charlie Hebdo incident, he is at his wisest. He could’ve just told jokes. Thank God he didn’t.