Mike Birbiglia feels that when he first started in standup, he oscillated somewhere between two of his idols, Mitch Hedberg and Richard Pryor. He has gradually moved away from short observational gags, though, and into compelling and hilarious storytelling. "I think it's sort of what I was meant to do," he says. "But it took me going through various stages to get to it." Today, Birbiglia has a sizeable and loyal following, something he finds somewhat surprising. "It's funny," he says. "I don't have a sitcom, I'm not in movies, I don't have the traditional things you would expect someone to have to sell out 1,000-2,000 seat venues, but people are coming." And he couldn't be more grateful. "I'm probably one of the few performers who really likes my fans, not just that they exist, but when I meet them I'm like, 'These are cool people!'" It's a view further cemented by his obsession with Twitter. Often Birbiglia will invite fans to send him jokes on a particular topic, everything from Jesus using Twitter to eating at chain restaurants. "That's another instance of my fans being really funny," he says. "I laugh my ass off from one joke on Twitter. That's something, when your fans can write the jokes. That's a good sign."
Sat., Sept. 26, 8 p.m., 2009