Did you feel it? The ripple of sorrow that pulsed through the Reader office when it was announced that Mike Birbiglia had canceled out on what was supposed to be a five-day stand as part of this year’s TBS Just for Laughs comedy festival? The comic whose Sleepwalk With Me has gone from one-man show to book to 2012 movie release is said to have experienced insurmountable technical difficulties. There was a wailing and a gnashing of teeth behind certain cubicle partitions here. People were stumbling around like, well, sleepwalkers, shaking their heads and tearing up whenever they happened to make eye contact with one another.
Well, we’ll survive. (Oh yes, we will.) Birbiglia is due back to perform at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, October 25-29; if that actually happens, we may even learn to trust again. Meanwhile, there are 146 other comedians and troupes listed on the Just for Laughs roster, a bunch of whom Reader intern Rebecca Cohen saw fit to highlight in her judicious preview of the fest. A few of us will be out there this week, at the clubs and theaters, trying at least to laugh on the outside as we take in shows featuring Conan O’Brien, Janeane Garofalo, Scott Adsit, and a whole slew of locals such as Adam Burke and 2010 Reader pick for best stand-up Junior Stopka. We’ll share our responses here during what we’re calling Laughs Week because it hurts too much to call it Mike Birbiglia Isn’t Coming Week.