By Elyce Phillips
US comedian Mike Birbiglia is renowned for his storytelling prowess, and not without reason. The man is a master. My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend is a long, winding tale about Birbiglia’s romantic past and his opposition to the institution of marriage. From his painfully awkward first date to almighty blues with his girlfriend about nothing, the show is bittersweet, honest and hilarious.
Those who listen to ‘This American Life’ might be familiar with parts of the show, like the tale of Bibiglia being involved in a hit and run in LA, but the stories are in no way diminished upon second hearing. It’s an absolute joy watching a performer who’s so in control of their craft. The audience was enthralled. You could hear the collective wincing as Birbiglia talked of the red flags he should have seen with his high school girlfriend – to which Birbiglia responded by simply taking a moment to say, “I know.”
And yet, for all its cynicism, ‘My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’ is incredibly uplifting. At its heart, this is a love story – one that is probably more relatable than anything you’d see in a romcom. By way of vomit, terrible kisses and car crashes, we arrive at deeper truths about love and relationships.
My Girlfriend’s Boyrfriend is a show that has clearly been honed over years of performance. The tone is sweet, but never schmaltzy, self-depreciating, but never defeated. It may be a monologue, but the delivery is so relaxed it never feels like you’re being lectured to. There’s not a line out of place, the pacing is spot on and Birbiglia is completely at ease up on the stage.
If you haven’t seen Mike Birbiglia perform before, do yourself a favour and check this one out. It’s an absolutely stunning show.
Mike Birbiglia – My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend is on at the Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre until April 4.