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Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  13,447 ratings  ·  859 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. Also,

Hardcover, 191 pages
Published October 12th 2010 by Simon Schuster
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  13,447 ratings  ·  859 reviews

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Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Although the comedic level plateaus between very 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 & sleep disorders) than the professional. Still, very much worthy of your time.
Jan 15, 2012 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 24, 2010 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
Kater Cheek
Jun 20, 2011 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
Aug 25, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011, other, 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 29, 2012 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
May 13, 2011 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
Nov 09, 2010 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
Jul 13, 2010 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
Aug 07, 2020 rated it did not like it
I think Mike Birbiglia is funny, but the stories themselves are so fucking boring. It took me 10 days to get through this 190 page book, which really should show you how I struggled through it. Besides that, I wanted to read this because I thought it would be centered on his (fascinating) sleepwalking disorder. In actuality, only one chapter involves it. I came here for sleepwalking stories, not tales of middle school sexual conquests or older people trying to use technology. Everybody has heard ...more
Sep 19, 2012 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
Feb 22, 2014 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
Dec 02, 2011 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
Jason Paulios
Dec 13, 2010 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. ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: kindle-generic
I love his stand up and even though this is a bunch of stories I’ve heard before, it was still a funny read. Several places had me in stitches to where I couldn’t see the book to continue reading. My son loves it as well, though he had me gloss over some parts that were, shall we say, too handy? (I was trying to find a way to skip them anyway but then he took my pause in reading to look over my shoulder.)
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mr. Birbiglia is my favorite comedian, and I attempt to absorb everything he puts out into the world, but this book was really kind of frustrating, because not only does he recycle massive amounts of previous stand up work, a lot of the passages and chapters in this book are literally word for word from his stand-up specials and routines.
Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I probably should have listened to the audiobook. Mike is one of my favorite comedians, and I've heard a few of these stories performed by him before, including his "I'm the Hulk" story which is one of the funniest things I've ever heard. But reading his act just isn't the same - it definitely loses something in another medium. ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this, but found it uneven at times, which is strange because I remember really liking the movie Sleepwalk With Me. I think I would have enjoyed listening to the audio because I feel like the delivery would have added something extra.
The Reading Raccoon
Funny with some laugh out loud moments. Didn’t stray too far from the typical comedian memoir.
Sandy Plants
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mike Birbiglia is a funny guy and I liked reading this book. I already forget 90% of what happened in the book but I know I laughed and enjoyed reading it. I think...
Apr 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great quick read. The author, Mike Birbiglia, is a comedian. His humor is on display throughout the book and I enjoyed some hearty laughs. The book is essentially a memoir delivered like a standup comic act. It's a short one at 187 pages, but a fun read. ...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 21, 2010 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
Michael Emond
Nov 17, 2012 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
May 28, 2013 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
Sep 12, 2012 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
Dec 03, 2010 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
Jan 13, 2011 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
Dec 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
(3.5) Birbigs is funny, a lot of the material felt familiar though

I worked with Patti, Mike's sister, back around 2000 and she mentioned she had a comedian brother, but I thought oh yeah whatever. Fast forward a few years, I hear him on "This American Life" and "The Moth" (the podcast, don't live in a Moth city, ahem), and am now a huge fan. He's hilarious.

So this is good, funny stuff. I wish it were longer and there was more. Also have heard a bunch of it here and there, maybe he reused some of
Oct 25, 2010 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
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