Sunday, July 09, 2006

Mike Birbiglia Workshop

Yesterday, I had arranged to leave my usual Staurday job early so that one of my co-workers could pick up some hours and I could get some time to myself. As it ended up , I had to re-schedule a hair appointment . Also, Mike Birbiglia was in town working on his one man show and he was willing to have a workshop at the Studio before the show on Saturday. Ordinarily, I work until 6, but I was going to be available for this workshop. I was psyched !
Mike has appeared on Conan and Letterman and Comedy Central. He is a nationally known comic. He's originally from Shrewsbury. The workshop was an informal affair. There were about 20 of us to start with and we ended up with about 25 at the end. I was the only female in attendance. It was initially suggested that we each bring a question and we would see how far we would get. Most of the questions were about the process. I felt he was very honest in his responses. He had some really useful things to say, for me.
I will relay what I can remember and by no means will I be particularly accurate. I mostly remember what resonated with me. People asked questions and he answered. He said stuff like. . . . You really have to want to do comedy because it's a job of rejection. You need to improve all the time. He made a comparison with people who were practicing comedy as a sort of hobby. Listening to the radio on the way to the gig, shooting the breeze with the other comics, having a couple of beers. That's how one would approach a hobby. A comic would be going over the list on the way to the gig. Staying focused on the material. Approaching it like it's a job. Thats' what it is. He feels that little jokes can expand to longer pieces. I don't know if I entirely agree with that. Some jokes are really bolated. .. but I digress.
He suggested that you tape every set (which I do!). Go over it and figure out what works. He thinks every comic should take acting classes because it will just make your comedy better. It will expand you. In New York, he could perform in as many as 7 shows a night when he's working on material. He thinks you should see as many of the greats live onstage as possible. He worked at a comedy club of the caliber of the Comedy Connection when he was in college. He got to see everybody and he feels that taught him things.
He referenced Louis CK a lot. He thinks that you should keep your material personal because that speaks from your experience. People will identify with you . All his stuff is based on stuff that really happened in his life. He thinks that you should try and do new stuff every time you get on stage. Though, he was sure to point out that it depends on what kind of a relationship you have with the booker. If the booker trusts you , you can have the luxury of trying stuff out. If he doesn't, you have to keep to your time and subject matter.
I can't remember what else he said , at this moment. At the end of the workshop, I was really grateful I was able to participate. I felt inspired.
I stuck around for the show. Dan Boulger is the Comic in Residence this month. I think he's a great writer. Brian Longwell was on the show, I was surprised, because I hadn't seen his name on the list this week. Brian was great ! Kris Earle was also on the show. He was trying something out. I think it worked. I hadn't seen Bob Hegearty since April. he did some new stuff , too.Bethany Van Delft was also on the show. I hadn't seen her perform in a while. She just gets better and better all the time. Little Renta Tutko was on the show, she did new stuff , too. I always enjoy seeing her perform. Steve Calechman was on the show. He did stuff I hadn't heard before, very good. Shane Mauss, also terrific ! I forget who else was on the show and then there was Mike Bibiglia. He was great ! It was really interesting to see him doing exactly what he had been talking about in the workshop. I could tell when he was trying new stuff and when he was in familiar territory. It was like when I was in college and my teachers would be working with us on something in class and then you go see them perform at night and you see that they're actually doing what they were trying to communicate to you in class that day. It was great for me. Also, he was fucking funny ! It was a really enjoyable experience for me.
Mike only stuck around for a little bit after the show. I wanted to tell him how much I enoyed his set and the workshop. I was able to hang out for a while last night because I had arranged to take today off. I hung out with Kris Earle for a while . I flirted with Alvin David for a bit-he's always good to fool around with. I spent most of the night talking with Chris Oake. I hadn't really talked with him since the Christmas Party. I also got a chance to shoot the breeze for a bit with Brian Longwell. He looks fantastic !
I surprised myself and stayed out until after 1 am. I'm a little tired but it was a nice fun time for me . I'm glad I was able to be there. I am glad that Rick Jenkins and Mike Birbiglia were able to put this together at the last minute. It was good time.


Blogger bethany said...

thanks for the nice words, Dot. I really appreciate it.

love ya!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006 2:01:00 PM  

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