Comedian and actor, Mike Birbiglia, premiered his new one-man show, “The Old Man and The Pool” with a star-studded opening night at the Mark Taper Forum this week. Comedians know funny and a who’s who of comedy was in attendance including the likes of Pete Holmes, Fred Armisen, Jack Black, and Jimmy Kimmel to name a few.
Finding something to really belly laugh about has been challenging for most of us as of late. It was with this thought that I looked forward to seeing “something funny”. Honestly, it is the hardest I have laughed in two years. Thank you Mike Birbiglia. He mercilessly skewers almost exclusively himself during an 80 minute, non-stop rollercoaster odyssey of his personal health travails over the past few years.
To those who have said this show skews towards an older audience because of its content, I disagree. Tell that to the 20-somethings sitting around me who were bent over laughing harder than we of a certain age. Probably because everyone, regardless of age, has had to deal with doctors and some form of illness or health issue – and also because Birbiglia is a phenomenally gifted storyteller and just plain funny.
The story follows his journey from a zero athleticism, teenage wrestler up to a 40-something father being told he has to lose weight and more importantly improve his exceedingly low lung capacity. Swimming is offered as the best solution which flashes him back to his first horrifying and of course in hindsight, hilarious childhood experience with the YMCA pool that turned him off for life. But realizing that he is fast approaching the age that took both his father and grandfather from heart disease along with a startling epiphany regarding his young daughter, off he goes to his local Y. I suppose all of this sounds incredibly benign, but in the hands of Birbiglia, every detail is taken to gloriously hysterical heights that leave you gasping for air, with each new piece of the story building off the last until you are begging him to slow down. But he does not. It’s a beautiful crescendo of hilarity with truly touching, poignant moments about life, death and saying “I love you”.
So, if you feel like belly laughing while reaffirming the good, bad and ugly of this thing called life, grab a seat at the Mark Taper Forum and catch “The Old Man and The Pool”. You’ll be glad you did.
“Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man and the Pool” is now playing at Center Theatre Group / Mark Taper Forum through August 28, 2022. This one-man show is written and performed by Mike Birbiglia and directed by Seth Barrish.
Ticket Prices: $30 – $110 available online at CenterTheatreGroup.org, by calling Audience Services at (213) 628-2772 or in person at the Center Theatre Group Box Office located at 135 N. Grand Avenue in Downtown L.A., CA 90012