Photo by Emilio Madrid

Mike Birbiglia’s latest Broadway show received universal praise. A smart script and talented comedian with full control of the room make for a fun evening of theatre. If you’ve seen a Birbiglia show before, you know just what’s in store, as he relies on much of the same things that have worked for him before; and they work perfectly once again.

TimeOut Review of Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool

The latest Mike check-up, the funny and endearing The Old Man & the Pool, dives back into questions of life and death, delivered with a goofy gallows grin that helps the medicine go down. … Birbiglia doesn’t wallow in his suffering, but he doesn’t go that deep; part of his great charm as a performer is in the way he deflects pity with stoic geniality, mentioning potentially grave issues (such as what sound like anxiety attacks) lightly and fleetingly, almost in passing. He’s in the pool, but you never worry that he’s really going to drown. He’s having too much fun in there, splashing around with us. … Like all of Birbiglia’s joints, The Old Man & the Pool is carefully structured: The chatty sidetracks always loop back to the central path. Birbiglia is an expert at controlling the pace and energy of the evening, and the thrust stage of Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater helps him maintain an appealing closeness to the crowd.

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Entertainment Weekly Review of Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool

[W]atching Mike Birbiglia‘s new one-man show, The Old Man and the Pool, I felt connected to him, reliving some of my own recent medical traumas and finally being able to laugh at them and release a little of the anxiety I’ve been carrying. … Birbiglia is excellent at his craft, knowing when to guide the audience through an emotion and when to perfectly execute a gag that has slowly been building. The subtle set design is just effective enough to conjure the smell of that YMCA from his memory; it brings a quiet vividness that fits well with his narration. Written by Birbiglia and directed by Seth Barrish, The Old Man and the Pool is casually endearing and witty. Birbiglia’s strength is his effortless delivery. You never feel like he’s performing a bit, but rather like you’re throwing back a beer with your funniest friend, a guy you’re meeting up with again for the first time in years. A lot has changed; nothing has changed. 

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The New York Times Review of Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool

Mike Birbiglia knows what he’s doing: At this point, his act is baked to golden perfection. Exploring new territories or branching out into unexpected formal terrain is not in the cards for this comedian. His new solo show, “Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & the Pool,” directed by his regular collaborator Seth Barrish, is built along the same lines as his previous outings. … And it’s all very, very funny: In Birbiglia’s case, familiarity breeds content. This might be interpreted as a backhanded compliment since reinvention tends to be praised in artistic circles, but it is not. Birbiglia’s virtuosity as a narrator is very real, giving him full control over the evening and the audience’s reactions. 

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