Buffalo welcomes Birbiglia

A night inside Buffalo’s new Helium Comedy Club

By TIM ALLMAN
On February 17, 2013

  • Last Thursday, comedy star Mike Birbiglia visited Buffalo’s Helium Comedy club to deliver his new act, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, and his hilarious and honest take on Buffalo. Courtesy of Mike Lavoie

For three nights, comedian Mike Birbiglia tended to the City of Buffalo in the midst of another harsh winter and even bleaker downtown nightlife. With the newly opened Helium Comedy Club, Buffalo can finally learn to laugh again.

Helium Night Club is Buffalo's latest addition to downtown nightlife and has already welcomed nationally renowned comedians like Rob Schneider (Dino Time), D.L. Hughley (Cat Run) and Brian Posehn (The Five-Year Engagement). Last week, the club welcomed Birbiglia and his opener, Josh Rabinowitz, for a late-night comedy special.

The laidback atmosphere allowed audience members to have some food and drinks while sitting with friends and having a laugh - the perfect synthesis of restaurant and theater.

Temeka and Ron Woods, 35 and 39, of Buffalo, loved the show and raved about the new space.

"It's a really nice space," Temeka said. "It's great to have a legitimate comedy club in Buffalo."

Birbiglia has starred in three Comedy Central specials and has three comedy albums: Two Drink Mike (2006), My Secret Public Journal Live (2007) and Sleepwalk With Me (2012), which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Magazine Comedy Charts.

In 2008, Birbiglia's one-man show, Sleepwalk With Me, played off-Broadway at Bleecker Street Theatre in New York City. Actor Nathan Lane presented the show, and The New York Times called the show "simply perfect." Recently, Birbiglia made his film debut by turning Sleepwalk with Me into a feature film. It premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and won the NEXT Audience Award.

Now, Birbiglia tours the country with his new comedy act, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, which he performed at Helium Feb. 14-16.

"I was told if I didn't like Buffalo, I shouldn't mention it," Birbiglia said. "You people are really sensitive."

The opening remarks from Birbiglia kept the show relative to the city and did what comedy does best: critique in a humorous fashion.

He remarked that he was told Buffalo Police do not pull anyone over, to which he replied, "Well, they should." He commented that the Buffalo Police force seemed a bit like Swiss cheese.

A highlight in the beginning was his description of the Hotel Lafayette, where he stayed in Buffalo. He said it was nice, but he heard, at one point, the city was in talks to blow it up.

"It's nice to be staying in a place that was so close to demolition," Birbiglia said.

Birbiglia's very relaxed, matter-of-fact, conversational style made it effortless for audience members to relate and enjoy his show.

"The best part of the show for me was definitely the story [Birbiglia] told of being pulled over for having a suspended license," Ron Woods said. "His facial expressions were hilarious. The part about having an itch while waiting in the cop car but not being able to scratch it being hand-cuffed was just awesome."

Comedic up-and-comer Josh Rabinowitz, who has appeared on Comedy Central numerous times, served as Birbiglia's opener.

On Feb. 21, Helium Comedy Club will present Godfrey, whom audience members will recognize from the Ben Stiller comedy Zoolander.

 

Email: arts@ubspectrum.com


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