Mike Birbiglia’s Favorite Medications Are Placebos

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Photo: Lindsay Schneider

Name: Mike Birbiglia
Age: 32
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Occupation: Comedian, Actor, Storyteller. His new one-man show, My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, runs through May 15 at the Barrow Street Theatre.

Who's your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
My wife, because she's lovely.

What's the best meal you've eaten in New York?
For a pizza connoisseur, this is very embarrassing to admit: I recently went to John's for the first time, in the West Village, because it's right next to the theater. And I just fucking loved it. I'm going to start going there a lot. It's a combination of things with John's: It's got the ambience of old New York — that kind of warmth in the establishment and hominess — combined with this brick oven pizza that's just perfection. You just can't beat that New York dough. They say it's because of the water that the pizza is so good.

In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I always say that I'm paid to travel places where I perform comedy for free.

What was your first job in New York?
Some combination of being a temp and a focus-group participant. I was on all these focus-group lists. They would pay you, like, fifty dollars to come in and answer questions about, say, how you feel about Sam Adams beer or whatever the thing was. As a matter of fact, the services still call me, asking me to do them.

What's the last thing you saw on Broadway?
Scottsboro Boys. I absolutely loved it. I think it's a travesty that it closed. As a matter of fact — not to plug my own thing, but the set designer for Sleepwalk With Me and My Girlfriend's Boyfriend designed the set for it.

Do you give money to panhandlers?
No, but I do donate to City Harvest here in New York City, and I also support similar charities in the cities in which I perform. I also give money to street performers, because I definitively understand what it is they do, and I appreciate it.

What's your drink?
Soda water on the rocks. Twist of lemon. Side of pizza.

How often do you prepare your own meals?
Never-ish.

What's your favorite medication?
I take Klonopin for my sleep disorder, but I hate medication. I wish I didn't have to take it. So I guess my favorite would be placebo.

What's hanging above your sofa?
A Mates of State poster. My wife and I collect rock and roll posters. In my opinion, some of the best artwork being done is by rock-poster designers.

How much is too much to spend on a haircut?
Over an hour.

When's bedtime?
Theoretically midnight. If my wife and I get caught up in a movie it'll end up being 1 or 1:30.

Which do you prefer, the old Times Square or the new Times Square?
Is that in Park Slope?

What do you think of Donald Trump?
I had no opinion on him until I saw him speak in person, and then I was like, I kind of get it. He's a humorous guy. And he's got crazy hair, and he can clearly afford better hair. To behold that hair in person is to understand that Donald Trump is a human being.

What do you hate most about living in New York?
That I don't end up doing as many tree-friendly activities as I'd like to.

Who is your mortal enemy?
Automated customer service. Everything in customer service is designed to get you to hang up. From the music they play to the automated robots, it's all designed to get you to say, "I give up. I'll figure something else out."

When's the last time you drove a car?
This morning. A rental car in Cincinnati.

How has the Wall Street crash affected you?
I lost thirty dollars in the stock market, and then I gained thirty dollars in the stock market.

Times, Post, or Daily News?
Times online.

Where do you go to be alone?
You're making me realize what's wrong with my life.

What makes someone a New Yorker?
The willingness to live within ten inches of someone else at all times.