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‘Mike Birbiglia: The New One’ review: Comic has a fresh take on parenthood in Off-Broadway show

The show is at the Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village through Aug. 26.

The 80-minute show focuses on Birbiglia's hesitant and

The 80-minute show focuses on Birbiglia's hesitant and bewildered transition into fatherhood. Photo Credit: Joan Marcus

‘Mike Birbiglia: The New One’ runs at the Cherry Lane Theatre through Aug. 26. 38 Commerce St.,

It’s hard to think of a more generic title for any new show than “The New One,” Mike Birbiglia’s latest one-man show, which is playing a short run at the Cherry Lane Theatre in the West Village following a national tour.

When the Off-Broadway run was first announced, Birbiglia (comedian, storyteller, Brooklyn resident) justified the title in the following statement: “I hate it when people tell me what anything is about or really any details at all . . . If you liked my other shows and movies, I think you’ll love ‘The New One’.”

In any event, the title — which does in fact have a hidden substantive meaning — was apparently all that Birbiglia’s fans needed, given that the show’s run is virtually sold out.

Over the past decade, Birbiglia has gained a solid fan following based on his stand-up shows, including “Sleepwalk with Me” (which was recorded as an album and adapted into a film and best-selling book) and “Thank God for Jokes,” which was released on Netflix. Birbiglia has also appeared in films such as “Trainwreck” and TV shows, including recurring roles on “Orange Is the New Black” and “Billions.”

As a lead-up to the Off-Broadway run, Birbiglia released a series of podcasts titled “The Old Ones,” where he discusses his comedy albums with family members, fellow comedians (Judd Apatow, John Mulaney) and radio journalist Ira Glass, who is a producer on “The New One.” The show is directed by Seth Barrish, with additional writing by poet Jessica Hope Stein, who is Birbiglia’s wife.

The 80-minute show focuses on Birbiglia’s hesitant and bewildered transition into fatherhood, from being steadfast against having any children (he even delivers an extended list of reasons why he considers himself unfit to take care of a child) to his wife’s pregnancy and the arrival of their daughter.

Parenthood is well-worn territory for comedians, but Birbligia makes the show fresh and revealing through direct storytelling, precise pacing and his trademark nice guy persona, in which he presents himself in a casual, affable and excited manner.

He interweaves observational humor, personal anecdotes (such as his clueless experience in Amsterdam’s Red Light District), sentimental touches and physical bits, such as enacting the way that a couch is “a bed that hugs you.”


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