On his sophomore stand-up disc, Mike Birbiglia admits he’s not much of a political comedian. And that’s probably a good thing. It seems he’s got too many smiles in him to effectively execute a string of bitter, scathing tirades on the country’s current political climate.
But the one joke he does about the presidency kills with the Washington D.C. audience, mainly because Birbiglia doesn’t try to be someone he’s not. Instead, he embraces his East Coast suburban roots by likening George W. Bush to “Whiffle Ball” Tony Ã¢â‚¬â€ the guy at the barbecue everyone loves because he always starts the Whiffle ball game.
The problem begins, Birbiglia explains, when Tony is put in charge of everything: “the burgers and the potato salad? I don’t know if that’s such a great idea.” Overly competitive Tony starts pre-emptively launching burgers over the neighbor’s fence, only to find out “they don’t even have hamburgers. They have hot dogs, but they only throw them at each other, so it’s cool.”
The joke speaks well to Birbiglia’s style. Whether he’s expounding on vanilla topics — the joys of eating pizza; his glee upon spotting puffins on his trip to Alaska — or on seemingly darker things like rapists, drugs and race relations, he’s able to keep it clean yet edgy, and, most important, really funny.
Maintaining that tone throughout, Birbigs hits on an amazingly wide variety of things, including his technologically deficient parents, the pitfalls of high school sex, the downside of playing Scrabble with Jay-Z and staying at questionable hotels: “A lot of the bad hotels pretend to be good hotels,” he says. “Like they’ll have the soap be called “Purity.” And I’m like, ‘Until you get the ejaculate out of the curtains, we’re going to go ahead and call this one…’Soap.’”
Near the end of his set, the Massachusetts native also debuts a few hilarious acoustic songs, most memorably “The Guitar Guy at the Party,” whereim Birbiglia plays the role of that obnoxious dude looking to, “sleep with your girlfriend.” In the song, he concludes: “Maybe if I play ‘Free Fallin’, somebody will give me a hand job.”
Two Drink has Mike pushing the envelope a bit further than he did on his debut, Dog Years. But he’s a skilled performer, so he knows that pushing without an end is pointless and therefore he never steps on his own punch lines. The collection of jokes here is only a fraction of the proof that young Birbigs has an amazingly bright future in stand-up comedy.