what i learned from seeing Mike Birbiglia’s ‘Thank God For Jokes’ three times

This is a re-post from stumelton.com. the original article was published almost exactly a year ago. Thank God For Jokes is live today on Netflix…watch it! I also saw one of his Netflix special tapings and if you’re curious about what that was like, check out How You Can Make A Successful Netflix Stand Up Comedy Special Just Like Mike Birbiglia.

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the comedy “crime” of telling jokes that aren’t true

A friend mine told me this fantastic story that happened to her one time while she was dog-sitting. After she told it to me, I was like, “This is an amazing story. I have to share it.” So that’s the first reason I’m writing down my version of it here. The second reason why I’m sharing her story isn’t so happy.. .but let’s forget that for now and just enjoy the story first!

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being silly and being real: how writing comedy on the East and West coasts made me funnier

I’ve been thinking a lot about how my stand up has changed since I did comedy back in college on the West coast, so I wrote this thing about one of my old jokes that I ended up adapting after coming to New York City. Before I say anything else, I want to point out that my experience in comedy is limited. I did relatively minimal comedy before coming to New York and I’ve been here for just over half a year. So, in terms of the East/West differences I’m writing about, they only come from my limited personal experiences, which I suppose could have been different for anyone.

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bullshit is entertaining

Hello! I’ve been working hard on this story so that I could submit it to a comedy festival…and I just finished it! It’s a story about a trip I took to New Orleans with my grandpa. It’s pretty damn long, but I really do like it a lot. I’m not just saying that. Give it a darn minute of your time and see if you like it!

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“i’m gonna go kill myself!”

If comedians have a bad set, they’re always like, “I’m gonna go kill myself!”

And then everyone is like, “HAAAAA! THAT’S THE FUNNIEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD!!!!!!!!! SUICIDE IS HILARIOUS!”

Which I think is dumb. To me, it’s not funny to just say you’re gonna kill yourself. That’s not a well-written joke. I just feel like it should feel more hacky to other comedians by now. Like, if you want to have a mental disorder, then get more creative with it, right?

How about something like, “Man, there were so few laughs in this set that I’m gonna have PTSD!!! I know that’s a real thing that people actually have but I don’t care!!!”

Or, “This set was so bad, when I go home and my wife wants to have sex with me I won’t be able to get hard!”

Or, “After this I’m gonna go home and have me some bulimia so I can puke up all that shit I just ate on stage!!!”

 

The featured image is of One Court Square, also known as the Citigroup Building. It was taken down Jackson Avenue from The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City.

are math jokes taboo?

A lot of people hate math. People hate math so much that our word for “complete and utter destruction” is “aftermath.” That’s pretty bad. Like, what’s left after a bomb – we compare that…to multiplication tables.

That’s a joke I wrote that pretty much sums up how 50% of people feel about mathematics: it’s the absolute worst thing in the world. Physical torture cannot compare to the mundaneness of arithmetic nor the frustration of solving a system of equations. And yet, there are some crazy, weird people who actually like math.

What?! Who?! Well, I’m one of them! And so is San Francisco/Los Angeles based comedian Sammy Obeid. And if you’re a comedian who likes math, sometimes that can work against you.

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yesterday’s weather 1/19/16

You just got back into town from a long business trip. And you’re like, “Hey! No one is talking about what the weather was like yesterday! I wonder what I missed! Even if it was a pretty regular day I’d just like to know about it, you know? Just to ease my mind. Like, the weather channel only ever talks about the weather for today and the future! Unless there was an avalanche or Sharknado yesterday, no one is ever chatting about yesterday! I wanna know about the past, man! I wanna know what I missed!” You talk to yourself a lot.

Or, maybe you’re just forgetful.

Either way, my new segment, Yesterday’s Weather, is a perfect fit for you. I’m no meteorologist, but you will find out whatever yesterday’s weather was like wherever I was. The weather channel is always wrong. Get ready for the only weather report that’s 100% guaranteed…it’s time for Yesterday’s Weather.

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why are you all trying to be ghosts?

Not everybody thinks I’m funny.

When people boo me on stage, I’m just like, “Why are you all trying to be ghosts? Why are all these ghosts at my comedy show? This must be my demographic.”

They’re all like, “Booooo…Boooooo!” Shut up, ghosts. You’re dead. Because I killed you with my comedy. Because I’m so funny. I’m killing it up here.

 

The featured image shows The Grisly Pear on Macdougal Street – lots of shows there.

gentleman and a scholar

People are always complimenting guys saying, “He’s a gentleman and a scholar.”

Those are two things I’ve never wanted to be.

If I want to compliment someone, I say, “He’s a pimp and he runs a charity.”

That way, you can’t even be jealous of him. All you can say is, “He’s a great guy…he deserves all those hoes.”

 

 

The featured image was taken in the East Village. It’s a mural of Robin Williams, who was a gentleman and a scholar.

how to look like a serial killer

My room used to be all white with totally white walls, all white furniture, and white bed sheets. And I just recently realized that that is not normal.

So I called up my friend on the phone who is a photographer and I said, “Hey, why don’t you send me a picture so that I can put it up on my wall.”

So he sends me the picture, and I open it up and see that what he sent me is this giant print of…what looks like an empty, white room.

The only thing creepier than having a totally white room with all white walls and white furniture is having a totally white room with all white walls and white furniture, where the only thing on the wall is a picture of an empty white room.

Trying to seem less serial-killer-y, I decided to pin up my comedy notecards on the wall, too. Not that weird, right? After organizing them, I realized that all of the notecards are white as well. And they have the names of all my jokes on them. And the more you look, the weirder they sound, especially because you’d have no way of knowing why I wrote the phrases on these notecards without asking me.

“Make someone care about you?”

“Shower Ritual”

“Bill Cosby Cover”

“I think State Farm is there”

Normal people do not write these things on their wall.

I also acquired a new mattress. Not knowing what to do with my old one, I shoved it against the inner wall of my closet, thinking “Oh wow, I bet this would totally sound-proof the closet.”

Stop! Stop being a serial killer! How does being boring make me so creepy?! An all white room, one artsy photo, joke notecards, and a mattress are just boring things!

Maybe I should just embrace my inner serial killer and buy some tarps and an axe in preparation for my American Psycho-esque meltdown. The only problem is that I have no idea where they would sell axes in New York City.

You know, it really doesn’t make sense how having a really white room makes you seem crazy. It would just be way harder to clean when you do axe-murder someone. Just saying.

 

Greenwich Village Comedy club is in the heart of the West Village on Macdougal Street, just down the street from the Comedy Cellar. It’s where I’ve had my worst set: a grueling five minutes of complete silence. So it holds a special place in my heart. That’s what the featured image is about. If you liked this post, please like and share below! You can also follow the blog through Twitter, Facebook, or by joining my mailing list.