Friday, September 14, 2012
Is it a laughing matter to be so completely out of it that you jump through a 2nd story glass window only to wake up bloody, bruised, and a hairsbreadth away from having bled to death?
Surprisingly, it is! comedian/writer/director/producer/actor Mike Birbiglia has put together a rather amusing film about standup comedy, fear of marriage, family pressures and sleep disorders called Sleepwalk With Me.
I was under the impression this film, which premiered at Sundance 2012, was a documentary. It's not, it's a narrative comedic feature. Although it is based on Birbiglia's real life; as is, his one-man off-Broadway play, comedy album, best-selling book, TV special and segments on the NPR series This American Life.
Birbiglia plays Matt Pandamiglio a very low-key, schlubby, kinda unassuming standup comic wannabe who has managed to get a job as a bartender at a comedy club. Now and again he gets a 5-10 minute set, which is all the material he has, leading off with a lame joke about cookie monster having an eating disorder.
The other thing he's managed to do well is get an amazing girlfriend, Abby (Lauren Ambrose). She is bright, talented, beautiful, kooky in a really appealing way, and it's completely unclear why she has been with Matt for 8 years, and they've only just begun living together.
As wonderful as Abby is, it's this fear of getting trapped in a marriage like the 40 year sentence of his mismatched parents (Carol Kane & James Rebhorn) and the panic over his stalled career that brings on Matt's REM sleepwalking disorder.
Okay, so it doesn't sound funny, but think about it in terms of George on Seinfeld and you get the idea.
What ruins the film for me is knowing that this guy could never have truly been as much of a loser as he's playing. He's accomplished too much, it's one thing to finally find your comedic style, but to parlay that into this much success means Birbiglia's got to be a lot more of an "A" type personality than is portrayed. Add to all that, he's also got Joss Whedon plugging his movie!