Sleepwalk with Me: And Other Painfully True Stories
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Sleepwalk with Me: And Other Painfully True Stories

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by Mike Birbiglia

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Hello, I am Mike Birbiglia and I want you to read my book. Too on the nose? Sorry. Let me dial it back.

I’m Mike Birbiglia and I’m a comedian. You may know me from Comedy Central or This American Life or The Bob & Tom Show, but you’ve never seen me like this before.


Wait, that’s the name of another book. Also I&


Hello, I am Mike Birbiglia and I want you to read my book. Too on the nose? Sorry. Let me dial it back.

I’m Mike Birbiglia and I’m a comedian. You may know me from Comedy Central or This American Life or The Bob & Tom Show, but you’ve never seen me like this before.


Wait, that’s the name of another book. Also I’m not naked as there are no pictures in my book. Also, if there were naked pictures of me, you definitely wouldn’t buy it, though you might sneak a copy into the back corner of the bookstore and show it to your friend and laugh. Okay, let’s get off the naked stuff.

This is my first book. It’s difficult to describe. It’s a comedic memoir, but I’m only 32 years old so I’d hate for you to think I’m “wrapping it up,” so to speak. But I tell some personal stories. Some REALLY personal stories. Stories that I considered not publishing time and time again, especially when my father said, “Michael, you might want to stay away from the per­sonal stuff.” I said, “Dad, just read the dedication.” (Which I’m telling you to do too.)

Some of the stories are about my childhood, some are about girls I made out with when I was thirteen, some are about my parents, and some are, of course, about my bouts with sleepwalking. Bring this book to bed. And sleepwalk with me.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Mike Birbiglia was always a very funny guy who told stories onstage. But in the last two years it's been inspiring to see the stories get bigger and more complicated and emotional as he turned himself into a real storyteller and—with this book—a real author as well. These are deeply relatable, totally engaging stories. They're as moving and amusing as they come.” —Ira Glass, host and producer of “This American Life”

“Mike Birbiglia can write an entertaining yet soulful story in his sleep—that and jump out of motel windows.” —Sarah Vowell, author of The Wordy Shipmates and Assassination Vacation

“First, know that this book is well written and funny. Now, know that I hate cynicism. Hate it. This book is the opposite of cynicism. I love Sleepwalk With Me.” —Jeff Garlin, Co-creator and Co-star of Curb Your Enthusiasm

“Mike Birbiglia is a good friend of mine but I'm still really happy when weird, bad things happen to him because I love hearing the stories.” —Seth Meyers, head writer and host of Weekend Update, Saturday Night Live

“Funny. Very funny. Birbiglia is the child Woody Allen and Bob Newhart never had—please don't try to picture that 'encounter.' Smart and self-aware, with just enough perspective on his quirks and issues that you don't have to feel too sorry for you laugh at and/or with him.” —Bob Odenkirk, creator and star of HBO's Mr. Show with Bob and David

“Mike Birbiglia has always made me laugh and so did this book. No one explains their insanity as sanely or as honestly or is as funny as Mike. If you think you’re crazy, this is the book for you. It’s a good thing the kid is a talented writer and comic or he’d be screwed.” —Lewis Black

Sleepwalk with Me is so funny, inspired, and jealous-makingly well written, I am beginning to suspect that Mike Birbiglia MAY ACTUALLY HAVE BEEN AWAKE WHILE HE WROTE IT. This changes my whole worldview.” —John Hodgman, author of More Information Than You Require

“Insightful, heartfelt, and comedic—what more could you want from a book? Mike Birbiglia is a unique and wonderful new voice in American theater and letters.” —Jonathan Ames, creator of HBO's "Bored to Death" and author of The Extra Man and Wake Up, Sir!

Sleepwalk With Me is about the things that keep us all up at night: love, family and growing up. In equal parts hilarious and moving, this book should cement Mike Birbiglia’s status as a national treasure.” —Andy Borowitz, author of Who Moved My Soap: The CEO's Guide to Surviving Prison; The Bernie Madoff Edition

“Mike Birbiglia is a great storyteller, just as funny on the page as on the stage. These comic gems strung together create a hilarious and touching memoir of growing up awkwardly and finding his way in the cruel world of stand-up. An original wit who raises self-deprecation to an art form, and always leaves you thinking and laughing." —Nathan Lane

“Mike Birbiglia has crafted a genuine rarity—a boisterous book you want to listen to, quietly.” —Patton Oswalt, author of Zombie Spaceship Wasteland

Sleepwalk with Me is not your typical comedian-writes-book book. It's something else. It's laugh-out-loud funny from beginning to end, and it's a truly fascinating and bizarre story about a guy with a very real and a very unique problem. It completely blew me away." —Michael Showalter, host of Michael Showalter Showalter and author of Mr. Funny Pants

“Mike Birbiglia is a brilliant comedian with a completely original point of view and an endearing stage presence. And somehow, he has taken this stage presence and turned it into a book presence. Sleepwalk With Me is an amazing read—funny, insightful, heartbreaking, uplifting, terrifying at times, and very, very funny. Yeah, I said funny twice, but that’s because it’s really funny.” —Will Forte, writer and cast member, Saturday Night Live

“Mike Birbiglia might be the best comedian of our generation: smart, honest, and always painfully funny. He’s the Rembrandt of awkwardness.” —Michael Ian Black, author of My Custom Van

“If you read only one book this year, I wouldn't say you're an avid reader. That said, I truly believe that this should be the book.” —Alan Zweibel, Thurber Prize-winning author of The Other Shulman

“Mike is my favorite kind of hero in his stories: always self-aware, usually awkward, sometimes sad, but never cynical or bitter. The truths he unpacks from his life ring like a bell.” —Adam Savage, co-host of Discovery's "Mythbusters"

“Mike Birbiglia should be particularly commended on his sleepwalking story which is most responsibly written, turning a non-funny situation into one of hilarity, and legitimizing such occasionally injurious behaviors as a normal part of human existence unrelated to psychiatric disorders.” —Mark Mahowald, M.D., author of Parasomnias

"Sleepwalk With Me is a delightful stroll into the charming, intelligent and accessible mind of Mike Birbiglia." —Kristen Schaal, comedienne and co-star of Flight of the Concords

“I was terrified by how much I related to Mike Birbiglia's stomach churning, embarrassing stories of childhood, sex, and more. With writing that is fresh, starkly direct and all his own, he exposes his real life experiences—from the mundane to the extraordinary—in ways that made me laugh out loud at every page. So much fun to read…just be ready to cringe in self-recognition.” —David Wain, writer/director of Role Models, Wet Hot American Summer, and The State

“When Mike Birbiglia struts and frets his hour upon the stage, he is able to convey the pathos, longing, and bittersweet confusion that make being human such devastating and fantastic fun. Birbiglia's ability to translate this singular comic persona into seamless, Pringles-addictive prose is an even more radical achievement. You will want to play in Mike's childhood home, experience his delayed adolescence, and walk lucid through his dreams.” —Lena Dunham, writer and director of “Tiny Furniture”

“Gas station pizza, chain-restaurant bottomless sodas, getting engaged with absolutely no intention of getting married—and his forever funny habit of sleepwalking/fighting/karate-kicking/escaping from Brad Pitt—make Mike Birbiglia's book unendingly hilarious and charming. Sometimes you laugh aloud, sometimes you spit out whatever it is you’re sipping, sometimes you have to just put the book down because you're laughing hard enough to pull a neck tendon. Buy it. And buy another one for a friend.” —Denis Leary

"Sleepwalk with Me is so funny, so smart, and so full of self-deprecating wit that for a second I thought I was reading one of my own books.” —Alan Zweibel, Thurber Prize-winning author of The Other Shulman

"Charming, brainier than he’d probably admit, and frequently poignant in spite of himself, Birbiglia throws together an alternately rollicking and warm handful of stories; the lengthy title story, of his struggle with a sleep disorder, is as fascinating as it is hilarious."

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


I’m sitting at a Starbucks in Manhattan. Starbucks is the last public space with chairs. It’s a shower for homeless people. And it’s a place you can write all day. The baristas don’t glare at you. They don’t even look at you. Every once in a while they walk around with free samples of banana-chocolate something. “No thanks. Just the two-dollar coffee”—cheapest rent in New York. Plus, they sell CDs and even Christmas gifts. If this place sold toilet paper, I probably wouldn’t have to shop anywhere else.

Well, the reason I’m writing is that I want to tell you some stories. And they’re true. I always have to point this out because whenever I tell stories, people ask me, “Was that true?”

And I say, “Yeah.”

And they say, “Was it?”

And I don’t know how to respond to that. I guess I could say it louder. “Yeah!”

“It’s probably true. He said it louder.”

Growing up, I was discouraged from telling personal stories. My dad often used the phrase “Don’t tell anyone.” But not about creepy things. I don’t want to lead you down the wrong path. It would be about insignificant things. Like I wouldn’t make the soccer team and my father would say, “Don’t tell anyone.” And I would say, “They’re gonna know when they show up to the games and I’m not on the team and I’m crying.”

One time I built up the courage to ask him about this, which was tough because my dad is a very serious man. He’s a doctor—a neurologist. When he’s home, he spends most of his time in this one armchair reading these thick war novels. My dad goes through war novels like I go through boxes of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

So I built up the courage to ask, “How come you play everything so close to the vest?”

My dad said, “The more people know about you, the more they can use it against you.”

This sent shivers down my spine because it had that kind of open-ended fear to it—like that feeling you get when you’re driving and you see a cop. And you’re not speeding. You don’t have drugs. But you’re just thinking, I hope he doesn’t notice I’m driving.

Once in a while I told personal stories at the dinner table and my father would say, “Hush!” I’ll give you an example. In grade school, I was a terrible reader. We used to do these things at school called Student Reading Assignments, and the teacher would post on the wall a list of how many everyone had done—which is a great way to squash a child’s self-esteem. I remember there was this girl in my class named Jamie Burson who finished 146 of these things before I finished 2. And I distinctly remember thinking, I might be retarded. And then I looked at the wall and thought, Oh yeah, I am.

So one night, I sat at the dinner table and said to my dad, “I think I might be retarded.” And he said, “Hush!” Which is one way to address a problem—just keep it under wraps.

That’s what my father would say whenever anyone told uncomfortable stories. So I developed this habit of telling uncomfortable stories.

So here goes . . .

© 2010 Mike BirBiglia

Meet the Author

Mike Birbiglia is a comedian, author, actor, and director. His one person shows Sleepwalk with Me and My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend have both run successfully off-Broadway and toured internationally. He was a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor for this book and his feature film adaptation of it won the NEXT category’s audience award at Sundance Film Festival in 2012.

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Sleepwalk With Me 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
kim911 More than 1 year ago
Our dog died last night, which was heartbreaking - but this book arrived today and on a day when I thought I couldn't even smile, I read it cover to cover in one sitting and actually did LOL...not just pretending. This man is a genius...and cooler than he'll ever admit.
judycrilley More than 1 year ago
Sleepwalk With Me... laugh with Mike Birbiglia!!! I am old enough to be Mike's Mom, but sadly, I am not! I do have two children of my own that are about Mike's age. What does that have to do with Sleepwalk With Me? I'll tell you later! Now. about the book! Mike's a great storyteller. I have listened to his CD's and even seen him perform on Letterman and at Caroline's in NYC, so I know! I am absolutely delighted that he writes as well as he performs!!! I ride the NYC subways and reading helps me pretend I am somewhere else. So, I read SWM and while reading a story about his Catholic childhood. I had to look away because I was laughing so hard. When I looked back I thought I was going to laugh my head off.right there on the #1 train! For a moment, I was just another one of those subway-riding crazy persons.a happy crazy person! You find out in SWM, Mike's not only HILARIOUS, he's inspirational! Mike shares his "on the road" and "his rise to the top" stories, too. It seems to me that Mike's success is his, home-grown style of storytelling. AND that makes him the funny guy he is. It's his gift to us. AND... he works blissfully hard at his sharing his gift.and this is where my 2 kids fit into this review. My two children are both working artists with the vision of sharing their gifts and talents and vision with the world! They too, like Mike, work blissfully hard. We all work hard, but we need to laugh and be entertained. Artists do that with their lives! Hooray for artists! Hooray for, Mike! Mike has what it takes to be funny and share it with anyone who will listen. Now you can read it at your leisure, on the beach or like me, on your ride home to or from work. We all need a few good laughs!!! Read this book. Laughter is the cure for EVERYTHING. Mike's got the cure
JamesFauve More than 1 year ago
Cover to cover one of the funniest and most heartfelt reads to come along in recent memory. Always been a fan of Birbiglia's stand-up, but this piece brings his storytelling to a whole new level. Read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read a lot of humor books and not many of them make me laugh. This book is just not funny. I smiled a few times but that is about it. I wouldn't buy this again or read it again.
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Such a brilliant comedian! Listen to the performance too!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very funny and surprisingly touching. I highly recommend it.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great, it will have you laughing from the first page to the last. Mike is my favorite comic and i was so happy when i found his book. I hope he wrights another!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Birbiglia is a personal favorite in standup comedy for me, im happy to say his book conveys his charm and awkwardness in a style only suited to him. Love mike, and the book, read it.
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Great book. Hilarious. I was laughing out loud.
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