Popular comedian Birbiglia reminisces about his wacky childhood pipe dreams, sleep disorders and occupational and social failures.
In the Comedy Central regular’s first foray into the book business, the author engages in plenty of self-deprecating put-downs, non sequiturs and underdog-loser stories. However, other than some typical bits of social unease during childhood and a late start in dating women, Birbiglia isn’t quite the loser he makes himself out to be. His father, a successful doctor, sent him to a posh private Catholic high school, and he eventually gained admission to Georgetown University. Birbiglia takes the reader through his mildly humorous failures as an adolescent break dancer, schoolboy basketball player, womanizer, rapper and science student. He also delivers predictable material on gluttony, bodily functions and sleepwalking, and he milks his parents’ inability to cope with the Internet for some reliable parents-are-so-out-of-touch collegiate humor. The most entertaining parts of the book focus on his lean years as a struggling comic in New York, complete with crappy temp jobs, absurd focus-group gigs, a chronically low bank balance and failed early gigs in college lunchrooms. When the author tries to cover more serious matters such as love and relationships, he seems unsure whether to approach these personal issues with ironic distance or to break character and attempt to cast an air of pathos. On the whole, Birbiglia ably caters to a straight-male, frat-boy audience, keeping the humor light, snappy and chock full of references to junk food, cable TV, Internet porn and general lowbrow pop culture.
Average comedian-writes-a-book career padding. This same material is more enjoyable in Birbiglia’s stage act.