: Andrew George
On August 24th, Mike Birbiglia’s semi-fictionalized autobiographical feature film Sleepwalk With Me was released in selected theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and received very positive reviews from critics, audiences, and the comedy community. The film is based on Mike Birbiglia’s one man off-Broadway show, which is based on his book (both entitled Sleepwalk with me), which are both based on Birbig’s issues with his love life, anxiety, and his sleep disorder.
Publicity for this movie has pretty much taken on a life of its own since so many comedians have jumped on board with promoting it, just because it is the type of movie
that once you see it, you want to share it with the world so that everyone else can experience the same thing. Jeff Garlin even appeared on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson to promote the movie because he just wanted people to see it, even though he had absolutely nothing to do with the production. You can check out that clip HERE, you know, if you want to.
The story follows the up and coming comedian Matt Pandamiglio, who is played by and based on the real life Mike, who is eight years into a serious relationship with his girlfriend. The film opens with the modern day Matt driving in his car as he breaks the fourth wall and talks directly into the camera in order to set up the story, which takes place years before and is told through a series of consecutive flashbacks. As the story progresses, we see Matt’s comedy career go from his first show as a college student, to working in a comedy club, then to doing road work, all whilst he deals with issues surrounding his love life and his stress induced sleepwalking , which causes him to physically act out his dreams.
In my advanced screening, filled with a large group of other comedians, there were numerous times when the entire crowd erupted in laughter, and even a couple instances which enticed a vocal “Oh, shit!” from a handful of people. The movie features an appropriate amount of standup comedy from Birbiglia’s character, other characters (including a tribute to Mitch Hedberg), and an expected number of cameos, including Kristen Schaal, Wyatt Cenac, Jessi Klein, Eugene Mirman (uncredited), David Wain, and Marc Maron, who plays the role of Marc Mulheren, who IS Marc Maron.
The only criticism that I had after seeing the movie is one that the average audience member may not have had. Because I have been a fan of Birbiglia for years, I have already seen his standup specials, which means that I had already heard some of the lines and jokes that are in the movie, because they have already been told in said specials. However, after thinking more about this, I realized that since the movie is so autobiographical, much like his standup, it makes perfect sense that those lines were in the movie. One of the primary messages in the film centered around how his comedy is able to gain traction and get better once he begins talking about his own personal issues on stage, instead of doing observational humor, which all ties into why he uses lines directly from his standup to tell his story.
Along with those who I spoke to after seeing it, I fully recommend that you see Sleepwalk With Me. If you are a comedian looking for encouragement or if you just want a good laugh, Sleepwalk With Me may be the answer for you. As one person in my showing said, “It was like Funny People, but without all the bullshit.”
DISCLAIMER: If you are in a long term relationship with a standup comedian, seeing this movie will more than likely cause an argument... or at least an awkward conversation.