Just for Laughs

Mike Birbiglia’s poster for his comedy show, “Working It Outside.”

I love stand-up comedy.

Years ago when my kids were young, I’d wake up very early and watch HBO or Comedy Central shows to start the day. I told a few moms at the bus stop what I was up to, and they looked at me like I had two heads, but I didn’t care. I love to laugh.

I think I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: laughter is good for you, though admittedly there’s been very little to laugh about lately. Laughing releases endorphins that reduce stress and make you feel good.

You don’t have to actually laugh to get the benefits. Just smiling makes people feel better. Try it right now. Smile. Don’t you feel better? Some people walk around with a straw between their teeth to force themselves to smile, but I can’t be bothered with that. I’ve got enough problems with grinding and clenching my teeth.

I’m not just spouting off about this stuff. Years ago, I wrote a piece about the benefits of laughter and how little adults do it every day. On average, most kids laugh about 30 times a day, while adults laugh a meager three times. Pathetic, but it’s probably less what with Covid-19 and the upcoming election weighing on our brains.

I’ve asked the Curmudgeon to go to comedy shows with me three times during our very long marriage. The first two were for Jerry Seinfeld at Foxwoods Casino in Ledyard, CT. The third was last week to see Mike Birbiglia, a comedian who stars in the HBO comedy special “The New One.”

The HBO show is all about new parenting and it is hysterical. After watching that show, I became a little obsessed, watching everything Mike has on his website Birbigs.com. https://www.birbigs.com

One of his funniest bits is his take on attending mixers at his all-boys’ Catholic high school in Massachusetts. As a veteran of those horrid dances, I could definitely relate. His experience as a sleepwalker and the lengths he goes to to stay safe at night is also hysterical.

But it’s also Mike’s support of fellow comedians during the pandemic that earned him a special place in my heart. To support comedians that were out of work due to club closings, Mike began a podcast “Working It Out” that featured famous comedians, including his buddy John Mulaney, a fellow Georgetown University grad.

The banter between Mike and John got me through a particularly boring hike during the height of the shutdown when walking was the only thing we could do. I laughed during that hike and was enormously entertained by two guys Zooming in their apartments. For that, I’m eternally grateful.

Mike is performing his last outside socially distanced show at the Fairfield (CT.) Comedy Club on Wednesday, Oct. 28th. Fairfield is practically in our backyard (well, not really. It’s an hour’s drive in the best of conditions, but close enough that it wasn’t impossible to go).

When he announced his final outdoor show on Instagram, I told the Curmudgeon I was ordering two tickets.

“I think I’ve got a haircut that night,” he said. “Not sure I can make it.”

Seriously? I told the Curmudgeon to change the appointment and he reluctantly obliged. But he’s not excited about going to the show and is already planning his escape. Did I mention how much I hate feeling like I’m dragging someone to something?

“I don’t think he’ll perform for more than an hour, so we should get home at a decent hour,” he said. “I should be able to catch the end of the World Series if there’s a Game 7.”

Really? Is there anything worse than planning your exit before you even arrive? We’ve all done it, I suppose. But this isn’t exactly torture, unless it’s freezing outside. I’m hoping for temperatures hovering in the low 50s or else I’ll never hear the end of it.

Just to be on the safe side, I bought an extra large fleece blanket that we can spread across our laps so we look like Ma and Pa Kettle. I’m also considering wearing my plum-colored fleece Patagonia pants, though I’m not sure they’re meant to be worn out of the house.

I don’t have the heart to tell the Curmudgeon that Mike has scheduled three virtual shows in late November that folks can watch in the comfort of their living rooms. You buy tickets to the show at the “Nowhere Comedy Club,” and after it ends, even get a question and answer session with Mike.

The virtual shows are Nov. 27th, 28th and 29th https://www.birbigs.com/tour-dates. It’s too late for us – we’re watching Mike in the great outdoors unless there’s a downpour. But do yourself a favor and watch one of his virtual shows. It will remind you just how good it feels to laugh.

24 thoughts on “Just for Laughs

  1. Love him! We saw him live when he performed off broadway. The show we were at went off the rails a bit, but I never laughed so hard….He truly makes me laugh!! His memoir/essay book is pretty good, albeit slightly darker than his stand up. Plus, as an alumna of my daughters college, we are all in

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny! I remember listening to the Bob and Tom show fifteen years ago when Mike Birbiglia was a frequent guest. Funny stuff.

    And along the lines of laughter being healthy, I’ll never forget visiting a Doctor asking about what foods might be more or less helpful for Alice as she battled the brain tumor. This Doctor was trained both Eastern and Western medicine and was also a dietician and struck me as half buddhist, half hippie, and half what we might call “regular doctor.” So I was expecting some strange recipes using ingredients from the heart of the jungles along with a stern chastisement for what we normally fed her, and this lady says to us, “Happy is healthy. You can feed her super healthy stuff that tastes terrible and it’s kind of good for her, but if makes her sad, it kind of backfires. But if she enjoys life and food, that’s really good for her.”

    “And I commend joy, for man has nothing better under the sun but to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 8:15

    Liked by 1 person

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