Busy comic Mike Birbiglia has Sundance film AND Jan. 20 Kingsbury Hall show
Published: January 18, 2012 02:30PM
Updated: January 24, 2012 09:43AM


Comedian Mike Birbiglia will perform at Kingsbury Hall on Friday.

But he won’t return home after the gig, because the comedian-turned-playwright-turned-filmmaker has a film, “Sleepwalk With Me,” debuting at the Sundance Film Festival the same weekend.

Birbiglia said he didn’t even realize the coincidence until he read a Tribune blog about it. (That was a post on my Burger with Relish blog; set your browser so you’ll updated, too.) After all, he was booked for the Kingsbury gig long before his film was accepted at the festival.

His booking agent was “cautiously optimistic” about “Sleepwalk With Me’s” chances. “He was really hoping we’d get into the festival. The way he put it when he booked the show was, ‘If you get in, it’ll be a great week. And if you don’t get in, it’ll be fun, too. You can go watch some movies,’ ” Birbiglia said.

During the interview, Birbiglia talked about his stand-up show, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend,” as well as his upcoming Sundance premiere.

On the autobiographically inspired “Sleepwalk With Me” • The film is about this character’s denial of a lot of significant things in his life — his relationship, his career and his increasingly dangerous sleep disorder. Denial is an interesting topic to me because it has serious consequences, but it also can be very funny. We try to ride that line as finely as we can.

On his co-star in the film, Public Radio International’s Ira Glass, host of “This American Life” • Ira is very similar to how he is on the radio, except that he curses a lot more. Not angrily, just artfully. Even artful curses aren’t allowed on public radio.

On why he’s kicking off his “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” tour in Utah • I love Utah. The last time I played Kingsbury Hall I ended up in like a two-hour conversation with some of the ushers at the venue because a bunch of them were Mormons, and I love talking about Mormonism. And they’re all super-game to talk about it, which is good because I find Mormons completely fascinating. They’re so nice and good-hearted, and yet their religion is so confusing, and I mean that in the most affectionate way.

On building a performing career with a difficult-to-pronounce last name • Over the years, many, many, many, many people have tried to convince me to change my name. When I was starting out in comedy in college I found out that Jim Gaffigan, who is a hero of mine [and plays at Kingsbury Hall at 8 tonight and Saturday; tickets $38.75-$48.75 at 801-571-7100], went to the same college as me. So I got in contact with him. One of the things he said in passing was, “Birbiglia? You gotta change that name.” But I haven’t changed it and I think it ended up working out for the best because I think it’s one of those things where once people know how to say it, they just remember it because they had to spend 15 minutes trying to figure out how to say it.

On his reaction to being accepted at Sundance • It was one of the best days of my life. It’s very rare, I think, when you’re an artist that you have days where you can actually say, “This is exactly where I want to be right now.” I’ve found that in my career I’m always achieving my goals five to seven years after I wanted to, but every once in a while I achieve something a little before or exactly at the time I want to be arriving somewhere. The point is, I’m thrilled.

Mike Birbiglia’s ‘My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend’ tour
When • Friday, Jan. 20, at 7:30 p.m.
Where • Kingsbury Hall, University of Utah, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City
Tickets • $17.50 to $32.50 at kingsburyhall.utah.edu

Screenings of ‘Sleepwalk With Me’ at Sundance
Monday, Jan. 23, 5:30 p.m. • Library Center Theatre, Park City (waitlist only)
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 9:30 p.m. • Redstone Cinema 8, Park City (waitlist only)
Thursday, Jan. 26, 6 p.m. • Tower Theatre, Salt Lake City (waitlist only)
Friday, Jan. 27, 11:30 a.m. • Prospector Square Theatre, Park City (waitlist only)