Student improv group performs with comedian

For any aspiring comedian, to perform with someone famous is truly exciting. Comedian Mike Birbiglia helped expose some young comedians to the SUNY Fredonia campus community on a big stage.

Birbiglia performed recently at King Concert Hall. Prior to his performance, he found a note in his dressing room. When Birbiglia took the stage, he brought the note out on stage and explained to the audience he had found this note which had two phone numbers listed under C and M.

“I thought cellular and mobile were the same?” Birbiglia joked.

Through audience encouragement, Birbiglia called both phone numbers listed on the note. The first number belonged to Marisa Caruso, who was not in the audience; the second belonged to Cory Loomis – who was. Upon answering the phone, Loomis was brought down on stage with Birbiglia.

“What was the intent of this letter?” asked Birbiglia.

Loomis explained that he is friends with Caruso and it was her idea to slip a note in to the green room. The note offered a drink from Caruso and encouraged Birbiglia to incorporate the note into his show.

“Marisa texted me (saying) ‘I know where Mike Birbiglia’s dressing room is. I’m going to slip him a note,'” Loomis said.

Birbiglia, after the show, said he never had anything like that happen during a show. Some other audience members did make him signs at the show.

“What happened tonight, will never happen again. People send letters and they’re always a little bit crazy but they’re not that funny,” he said.

Birbiglia continued with his comedy show, until the audience started saying “Marisa is here” shortly into his set. He brought Caruso down to the stage and she explained the note. She interns next door to the green room and saw Birbiglia’s name on the door.

“I was typing and thought ‘Wouldn’t this be cool?'” she said. “I wasn’t going to be able to come tonight so I put Cory’s name on it.”

Caruso is a member of the improv comedy group, the Random Acts! at SUNY Fredonia. Once Birbiglia found more information on the Random Acts!, he offered a chance for the group to come back at the end of the show to help close out the performance. About an hour later, Random Acts! came back and performed improv comedy following a monologue by Birbiglia.

The monologues included a story of Ivan, Birbiglia’s cat, and their trip to Massachusetts which Birbiglia and his wife, Jenny referred to as “Catachusetts,” and a story of how big horse flies come in to Birbiglia’s apartment and his weapon of choice to kill them is a large Orson Welles novel being thrown at the wall. Improv included what it felt like to be Ivan as well as fly gangsters looking for money. Closing out the show, Birbiglia said the SUNY Fredonia show was one of his top 20 shows he’s ever performed.

“Tonight was a really wild show,” Birbiglia said. “It was one of the more unique shows that I’ve done. I kind of like it when stuff like that happens. I actually like when I do college shows or kind of one-offs like this where people aren’t coming with the expectation that they want to see one show.”

The show Birbiglia has been touring recently is “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” but he also tells stories from “Sleepwalk with Me,” a movie released last year based on his own standup. Birbiglia enjoys shows that are not tied to a specific tour where he has freedom to tie in what’s around him.

“I find whatever is happening in the room, if there’s a loud noise … I would build a show around that,” Birbiglia said. “One time I did a show in Detroit … on stage there was a small fire. One of the lights burst … and the audience could see it. So I built a 10-minute set around that. For me, that’s way more fun.”

The show was opened by comedian Josh Rabinowitz. He said he had a great time at the show and never saw anything like the performance in his career as a comedian.

“The crowd was really fun,” he said. “I’ve done a lot of comedy shows … and I’ve never seen anything like that, that was so cool. I thought the improv group was so funny. They really listened to (Birbiglia’s) stories and used them so well.”

“Sleepwalk With Me” is available on Netflix and iTunes. For more information on Birbiglia, visit www.birbigs.com. For more information in Rabinowitz, visit www.joshrabinowitzcomedy.com.

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