Movie review: ‘Sleepwalk With Me’ a stand-up comic’s dream
There’s a charmingly bedraggled, “found art” quality to “Sleepwalk With Me,” Mike Birbiglia’s shaggy-dog story about his own struggles to launch his stand-up comedy career, his reluctance to commit to an appealing long-time girlfriend and his on-going battle with a profound sleep disorder.
Credit much of that loosey-goosey narrative style to the origins of Birbiglia’s slice-of-life comedy, which date back to 2008 when National Public Radio’s resident hipster-nerd Ira Glass invited Birbiglia to appear on “This American Life,” where the comic began to relate memories, anecdotes, running jokes and lighthearted confessions that would eventually make their way into a one-man show that played off-Broadway for almost a year.
Eventually, with producing and co-writing support from Glass and co-directing help from actor Seth Barrish (“Margot at the Wedding”), Birbiglia adroitly transformed his personal travails, his raging insecurity and his stand-up act into “Sleepwalk With Me,” an eccentric comedy that launched with a persistent buzz at the South By Southwest and Sundance film festivals.
This loosely fictionalized autobiography features the likable, easy-going, 30-something Birbiglia as himself (here renamed Matt Pandamiglio), a shaky, would-be stand-up comedian locked in a commitment-phobic relationship with Abby (Lauren Ambrose), his go-getter girlfriend since college who is becoming disenchanted with Matt’s unwillingness to finally tie the knot.
On the career front, Matt’s prospects look dim. His act consists of about 10 minutes of passable material that he hones in spotty gigs at the comedy club where he tends bar. And to add to his woes, Matt is nagged by a sleep disorder that leads to several harrowing sleepwalking misadventures – including one where he drives his car through a second-story window as he dreams of saving the world.
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