“I just want to dedicate this movie for anyone who has just moved in with their girlfriends,” Mike Birbiglia deadpanned last night after the screening of his directorial debut, Sleepwalk With Me. Based on his one-man show that has been building up buzz for the past six or so years that he’s been performing it–resulting in a book, an off-Broadway show, and now a feature film– the cinematic version of Mr. Birbiglia’s story of strange sleep habits is full of pathos, comedy, and weird, weird imagery.
After premiering at Sundance, Sleepwalk was chosen to open the yearly BAMcinemaFest, an annual self-referential Brooklyn film festival in which the majority of the films feature characters suffering from New York ennui and the term “psychodrama” is used haphazardly in the blurbs. For this purpose, opening BAM’s movie week with Sleepwalk was a smart move by the festival’s organizers: it’s about a New Yorker who, for all the film’s comedy, has to deal with deeply distressing sociometry stemming from his night time behavior.
Without spoiling the plot, let’s just say that Mr. Birbiglia’s relationship comment was a tad…barbed.
But not to end the screening on a sad note, the co-host for the evening, NPR’s Ira Glass, announced a special surprise: As a giant cake decorated like a pizza was brought onstage, Mr. Glass wished Mr. Birbiglia’s a happy 34th birthday.
If the cherubic comic had been a more caustic comedian–a Louis C.K. type, maybe–this moment would have been the literal icing on the FML cake. But as a regular NPR guest and Moth contributor–God, if we had a nickel every time we heard someone mention The Moth last night– the literary comedian can probably beat out Michel Gondry in the whimsy department, and thus the pizza cake moment served to lighten a temporary dark moment. “I think that’s a cake from the Internet!” He exclaimed. (We weren’t sure what he meant, but we went home and Googled it. Apparently it’s somewhat of a tradition.)
As most of Brooklyn (and a few brave city-dwellers) crammed upstairs to sample from the array of snack tables (a hot dog cart, a hostess handing out warm milk with cookies, a felafel station, etc.) and wait in long lines for small glasses of alcohol, the phrase “Brooklyn prom” came to mind. Maybe that’s because people kept calling it that. If the White House Correspondent’s dinner is nerd prom, then an Ira Glass/Mike Birbiglia open bar might garner a similar moniker. Especially since “People Who Subscribe to The New Yorker But Hardly Ever Read It” Prom is quite a mouthful.
We did ask Mr. Birbiglia about his fatalistic dedication.
“Oh yeah, as soon as I said that, I thought, ‘How many people in the audience just moved in together? Whoops.’” But the cherubic actor wanted us to know that it’s not all negativity. “I moved in with that girlfriend and it didn’t work out, but I moved in with my next girlfriend, and now she’s my wife!”
Other notable guests included Saturday Night Live‘s John Mulaney and Girls actor Alex Karpovsky, who had a small part in Sleepwalk With Me and is currently promoting his new pseudo-documentary, Red Flag.
Since Ray was totally our favorite character this season, we just had to know: Did Mr. Karpovsky see himself as the voice of reason on the HBO hit?
“You know, Judd Apatow told me when we began filming, ‘You’re the bubble popper.’” Mr. Karpovsky recounted.
“The bubble popper?”
“Yeah…he said that when any of the characters were being too elitist, or too dramatic, or whatever, my job was to pop, pop, pop.” Mr. Karpovsky made motions like he was sticking his finger into tiny little bubbles.
We had a hundred more annoying Girls-related questions to ask the actor, but he was already making “Help Me” eyes at two female groupies, so we decided not to press our luck for now.
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