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Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  10,911 Ratings  ·  776 Reviews
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. Al

Hardcover, 191 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Simon & Schuster
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Naked by David SedarisThe Boy Kings of Texas by Domingo MartinezSquirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David SedarisSleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories by Mike BirbigliaTake the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell
This American Life
4th out of 100 books — 43 voters
Bossypants by Tina FeyIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy KalingDad Is Fat by Jim GaffiganYes Please by Amy PoehlerBorn Standing Up by Steve Martin
Books by Comics
16th out of 106 books — 131 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jan 15, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Did anyone else read the entire book in Mike Birbiglia's voice? Not out loud, that would be really creepy and weird, but in their head-voice? Because I did. I kept trying to get myself to stop and just read it in my normal head-voice, but I couldn't. Anyways....

The book was hilarious. It had some similar themes that he has in his stand-up, and a few familiar jokes, but I thought most of the stuff was different enough from what I'd already heard from him that it didn't feel stale. The whole thing
Dec 31, 2010 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, memoir
I love Mike Birbiglia's stand-up, but this collection of essays (many which are jokes from his act) suddenly has more poignancy . His humor is so subtle (it helps when you are familiar with his delivery and style) and there were moments where I genuinely laughed out public. But it's when he discusses the hard moments of his life that he draws the reader in. I don't know of a good word to use for the funny, bittersweet feel of this book, but anybody who wants to feel their humanity, in ...more
Oct 02, 2016 Fabian rated it really liked it
Although the comedic level plateaus between amusing & giggle-worthy, its compulsive readability is reasonably high. The prose is better than the actual jokes, in other words. Mike Birbiglia speaks more from the realm of the personal (family and sleep disorders) than the professional. Still, very much worth the read.
Kater Cheek
Jun 20, 2011 Kater Cheek rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Mike Birbiglia is a funny guy. I've heard him on "This American Life" a couple of times, and he's a great comedian. He manages to make me laugh without resorting to racism, misogyny, or a surfiet of swear words, unlike many comedians. So when my friend lent me her book club's selection for last month, "Sleepwalk with Me: and Other Painfully True Stories" I was surprised to hear that the book club didn't like it.

So I went into this book with guarded expectations. After all, I'd already heard the
Nov 11, 2014 Terry rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
Eh. This book has that same fault as all other books by comedians (Samantha Bee's book is another such disappointment)---it's just a series of routines strung together in book form. There's almost no point to actually reading something like that; it would at least make sense to get the audiobook. I did chuckle out loud a few times, which is a compliment. But I felt that this book wasn't sure what it wanted to be--a memoir of his childhood? A memoir of his medical issue (based on the title, the o ...more
Sep 12, 2011 Dawn rated it liked it
Shelves: other, read-in-2011, humor
This was funny. Sort of.

I liked it. Sort of.

I have to confess.. I liked the first half a lot better than the second half. I found it funnier, laughed out loud more.. The second half was ok, but I wasn't laughing as often, and I wasn't as drawn into it.. And there might just be a reason for that. How do I say this... I might have been slightly drunk when I read the first half of the book. I remember thinking it was so funny, definitely a four star rating.. And then the next day it was just.. I d
Nov 30, 2012 Blanche rated it liked it
Shelves: autobiography
Let's start by saying I adore Mike Birbiglia. He is an incredibly talented and genuine comedian, as well as a very sweet man (I got to meet him in person after his latest show). His recent movie, of the same title, was delightful. So when I saw this book, I obviously had to pick it up.

The book tells many stories that I have heard in his standup acts, but also includes a deeper look into his progression through the slog of becoming a professional comedian. Those views were my favorite parts of th
Nov 10, 2010 Rob rated it liked it
I became a fan of Mike Birbiglia after hearing a handful of his stories on This American Life and The Moth. But before I could get around to checking out one of his albums or seeing one of his performances, Sleepwalk With Me was published, so I picked it up expecting great things. And in some ways, it is great. Just not quite as great as I expected.

In the AV Club interview that persuaded me to buy the book, I took notice when Birbiglia explained that his writing’s guiding principle is that it no
Dec 08, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, humor
I first learned about Mike Birbiglia when he shared a story on This American Life. He's shared a few more stories on TAL since then, and he's also had a comedy special. Mike is an entertaining comic, and he had me laughing during his bits on TAL, on his special, and during this book.

There were a few less-exciting chapters, but overall this book had me smiling and sometimes even laughing out loud late at night when I should have been asleep but I was awake because sometimes Mike just really make
May 13, 2011 Mike rated it did not like it
Sleepwalk with Me, Mike Birbiglia's purposeless and unfunny memoir, castrates his stand-up routine by putting it into the delivery-less medium of book form. Stand-up benefits by giving the impression of effortlessness; that is not so much the case here.

Most of Sleepwalk with Me deals less with 'painfully true' and more with painfully ordinary: distant dads, being picked on at school, discovering masturbation, that lousy summer job, realizing that Catholic belief is kind of silly, and let's not f
Jason Paulios
Dec 31, 2010 Jason Paulios rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, humor
Love him on cd and on the radio but it just didn't translate so well onto the page. The jokes seemed calculating and occasionally lazy. They probably would work delivered orally but in a book the stories seemed rambling and too thin.
Feb 25, 2014 Tim rated it liked it
OK, before reading this book, I had encountered Birbiglia's sleepwalking story in three different formats:
a) as a short story told live at The Moth (via This American Life);
b) as a one man show (captured on CD, Sleepwalk with Me Live);
c) dramatized in the 2012 movie, Sleepwalk with Me.

So I picked up this book because I'm a fan.

Does the story survive the transition from verbal to literary? Yes, but I really think his stories work best as part of Birbiglia's verbal repertoire. Some of the low-key
May 28, 2013 Rebecca rated it really liked it
p. 43 Growing up, I was a big fan of the Indiana Jones movies. I watched them again recently and found them to be misleading. Aspiring archaeologists across the world probably show up to their first day of work with their weather-worn fedoras and their whips and they're like, "Where's the cavern of jewels?" And their boss is like, "Actually, today we're gonna start off by dusting thousands of miles of nothing." The thing I admire most about these movies is the conviction and sense of self that I ...more
Michael Emond
Nov 17, 2012 Michael Emond rated it it was amazing
I have been wanting to read this book for a long time but the library loan system failed me – it seems no library has this book in Canada which is a shame since it is amazing. But I lucked out since it forced me to buy the book and I am glad to have it in my collection. Maybe not up there with Tina Fey’s Bossy pants but a close second of comedians who write interesting autobiographies while still making it funny. I love the fact it was a quick easy read but due to Mike’s brevity you don’t feel l ...more
Sep 12, 2012 Tung rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, humor
I found Birbiglia’s stand-up special “What I Should Have Said Was Nothing” hysterical. I love his delivery, and his stories are solid. Descriptions of this book enticed me – Birbiglia’s humor and storytelling combined with relationship drama? Sign me up. Sleepwalk with Me is essentially a memoir that describes his childhood, his choice of comedy as a career, and his many (many, many) early failings trying to break into professional comedy. Despite my fondness for Birbiglia’s comedy, at the end o ...more

I'm a follower of the NPR program This American Life, where I first started hearing some of Mike Birbiglia's comedy routines. Admittedly, Ira Glass has a lot of pull with me, if Ira Glass said it, or liked it, I usually can't help myself in at least giving it a chance. I generally don't like comedians. I might begrudgingly laugh, but I have a hard time enjoying myself, because the flipside of what makes a comedian a good so often their downfall. Their lives often seem - well, bipolar, t
Dec 03, 2010 Andy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Birbiglia is a fantastic storyteller, and it's amazing to see how far he's come since trying to be a more normal comedian. He was funny then, but he's hilarious now that he's moved into the more personal storytelling.

If you read this book as your introduction to him, however, you may find yourself a little cooler on him than I do. A significant portion of the comedy comes from his delivery. This would be an ideal thing to be an audiobook. Luckily, I've heard versions of many of these pieces on T
Aug 26, 2012 Rebecca rated it liked it
I've been a huge fan of Mike Birbiglia, especially his segments on This American Life, and with the movie version of "Sleepwalk" about to hit theaters in my area, I wanted to follow my own rule of reading the book first.

This was a delightful read. Birbiglia combines poignancy and humor, my favorite combination on This American Life stories as well. For the most part, he is incredibly effective. I really did laugh out loud, which is something I rarely do while reading. My favorite part was when h
Riley Epley
Apr 20, 2015 Riley Epley rated it really liked it
Mike Birbiglia is one of my many favorite comedians. If you're a fan of Mike from his many venues, his CD's, Off Braodway show, Comedy Central or late night TV appearences, then this is a book you need to get. In this autibiograghical book, Mike is an aspiring stand-up comic with a sleeping disorder where he acts out his dreams. I think his stories make for better performance than reading, however. This book has themes of believing in one's-self and living one's dreams (pun intended). It's hard ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Philitsa rated it liked it
I wouldn't go so far as to say this book was hilarious. It was comedic in style, definitely. But I didn't laugh, not even close. I just recognized that he was trying to be funny. I knew when the funny started and when it ended. I acknowledged the funny. That's as close to "enjoyable" as this book came for me.

Part of the lack of hilarity stems from the fact that he focused SO MUCH of the book on his awkward childhood. Don't think you cornered the market on awkward childhoods, Mr. Birbiglia. I ca
Sep 19, 2012 Doug rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, biography
A pretty fun collection of anecdotes by a comedian, it's an easy read and perfect for commuting.

This may be a little off topic, but comedians must be the most self-critical people on the planet. If I didn't know who Tina Fey was, after reading Bossypants, I'd just assume that she looks like some ugly monster with big hairy forearms and not a ridiculously beautiful person. And all comedians who write books like this seem to have really socially awkward childhoods, but they all gloss over that pa
Elisa Suarez
Jun 04, 2015 Elisa Suarez rated it it was amazing
I love Mike Birbiglia and his writing is just as funny as everything else he does. While I was reading this book, I actually got to see him live in NYC and it was one of the best experienced of my life. He is very good at cracking jokes about himself in both standup and writing which make his stories, however crazy they are, really relatable, in a way. I really love reading comedy and this is now definitely in my top 3 favorites. I could not stop laughing as he described jumping out of a hotel w ...more
Nov 01, 2010 J.C. rated it really liked it
I'm a closet stand-up fan and Birbiglia is one of my current favorites. This book duplicates a fair amount of his stand-up material (and his National Public Radio bits) verbatim. That said, he's a comedian who clearly crafts every single word of every bit--so the fact that he would repeat bits word for word is not surprising.

This book is worth reading for Birbiglia's epic stories of sleepwalking alone. There are several other stories that are classics in the making, too. Plus, if you were a Mit
Sep 13, 2012 Beth rated it did not like it
So boring and not what I thought it would be. I've spent 4 weeks trying to slog through this book because it was small, but I find that I keep reading other things. That must be because I'm bored. I got about 2/3 through so i count it as finished. I enjoy the genre of humor essays, but I didn't find this funny. It was just kind of sad reading about his life. And where i thought it would be interesting, the sleepwalking of the title and what happened in his life because of it, that subject didn't ...more
James Galloway
Jan 13, 2015 James Galloway rated it really liked it
For a standup comedian, he is the best writer I've encountered. Reads more like Sedaris than Seinfeld.
May 08, 2015 Bstop rated it liked it
Sleepwalk with me is an interesting story about a struggling comedian named Matt. However, Matt is really Mike Birbiglia, just his character represented by him. In Sleepwalk with me Matt faces many challenges and issues such as his rapid eye movement disorder and others thing that he struggles with such as being a successful standup comedian.
I found the book rather interesting and it was good how Mike matured over time and was able to accomplish his goals. By working hard and believing he coul
May 06, 2015 AJ rated it really liked it
Sleepwalking To The Future

“‘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’” (Birbiglia 14). For those who like to connect to oth
Feb 02, 2016 Brian rated it it was ok
"Sleepwalk with Me" is at times an entertaining and quick read. And then there are times when it is not.
Mr. Birbiglia is a better comedian than he is a writer and it shows in this book. There are some very funny moments in this text, but the funny moments are much more frequent in his standup routine. The book takes about 100 pages to warm up, the first 50 pages being rather dull, and extremely repetitive. Then Birbiglia seems to hit his stride and the book picks up a little steam. However, sinc
Jul 08, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it
I saw Mike Birbiglia perform some of these stories live when I went to see a recording of the NPR segment Selected Shorts. He had me sold before I even opened the book! This was a quick, light, funny read that I really enjoyed and helped me clear my head. I would definitely recommend it, though it helped to see him live so I could hear his voice a little bit as I read these stories.

All in all, it was a fun book, and quite enjoyable :)
Nick Kives
Oct 06, 2011 Nick Kives rated it it was amazing
Mike Birbiglia is a comedian and yes, a number of his jokes are in the book, but it expands on them, and has the stories behind them. There is also a pretty good story about Mitch Hedberg about the first time Mike met him, and also parts of memorial services for Mitch.

Some comedians write books and it ends up just being their jokes on paper, but this book is actually a lot more, and one of the better of the types I have read.
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