Entertainment

Mike Birbiglia loves those insightful TikTok interviews


Go online, follow the comedian Mike Birbiglia, very similar to being drunk. “You’re like, ‘I’m going to come over hereand then it’s over here,‘ and after four hours you’re like, ‘I don’t know what happened! I have to erase my history!’” He chuckles from the corner of the sunny kitchen at the end of Zoom. “I always have these big ambitions, like next time I will look for healthy recipes and gyms in my neighborhood. And then I went online and thought, ‘Why don’t I google it myself?’”

This is the opening month for Birbiglia’s return to Broadway through his show The old man and the swimming pool, where the 44-year-old broods about death through his signature combination of storytelling and physicality. In an age of memes and groundbreaking lines, Birbiglia’s comedic style is practically a long form of storytelling that begins with a simple anecdote (in this case, his journey at the local YMCA). and turned into consecutive observation eggs. It’s been a relatable success for audiences who’ve watched Birbiglia explore Joe Mean’s experiences of relationships, parenting, and health issues over the past two decades in his career. his established career—as well as any new fans who may have been introduced to Birbiglia through him. guest role Taylor Swiftof the music video for “Anti-Hero” in October.

Because Vanity FairDuring the Internet diet, Birbiglia spoke philosophically about what he’s watching on TikTok, the Twitter jokes he loves, and how the web has changed comedy. The resulting conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.


Vanity Fair: Since we’re talking about your relationship with the Internet today, I must first ask about what it feels like to join one of the most powerful forces on the internet: the Taylor Swift universe.

Mike Birbiglia: I’m already a part of Swiftverse, so really, I just upgraded to an action figure. It’s fascinating—Taylor’s enthusiasm for all things, I find that very positive. I was watching one of her interviews on TikTok, where she was talking to a group of kids about journaling. It’s like something I say on my show that sometimes, when you do that, you can see your own life as a story, and you can shrink and encourage the main character. do better. decisions. It’s great to see Taylor thinking about that.

That’s one of the many things that are extremely appealing about Taylor to all her fans. She is just herself. In some ways, I think the internet has encouraged that kind of star. Bo Burnham is an example of that. You see a masterpiece like internal, and it’s like, I don’t think it would have existed without the internet. It rewards authenticity. Though sometimes that authenticity is insane.

Would you say the internet has had a big impact on your own work?

It affects the comedy process. There are jokes in The old man and the swimming pool it’s a direct result of me doing very quick online research. There’s a saying that I say, you know, I always thought, as a kid, that someone pees in the pool at the YMCA. Then I looked it up, and there is a lot of evidence to support this claim. I read this entire study from scientists who analyzed a 200,000 gallon water tank and concluded that there were 20 gallons of pure urine. When I started in the 90s, that kind of research would be done at a library, like a LexisNexis machine.

What else shows up on your TikTok page?

To me, it’s the silly stuff of comedy theory and cinematic theory. Yesterday, I received an interview with Jordan Peele where Trevor Noah asked him, “Why did you leave comedy?” I’m paraphrasing, but he’s basically saying, “I’m not giving up comedy. The relationship between horror and comedy is that they are very similar. The only difference is the music.” I love things like that. I strongly oppose TikTok — for example, I love the 90-minute movie, the 90-minute play. I don’t even like serials. But now I’m completely hooked, and I can say, I can say, I got rich on it.

There are a lot of archives Seinfeld interviews. only one Patti Smith interview that I watched recently, where she talked about how she had entire albums and books that people didn’t listen to or read, and then years later, they found it. In a way, I see the Internet as an artistic and entertaining dating service for consumers. It matches your taste with things you didn’t know existed.

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