Mike Birbiglia will tell jokes about jokes Wednesday in Davis

By Janelle Bitker

National Public Radio listeners tend to adore Mike Birbiglia. That’s probably not just because he’s frequently on This American Life, nor because he was added as a panelist on Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! earlier this year. Rather, Birbiglia is totally an NPR type of guy. He’s offbeat, confessional. His stand-up routines are unconventionally structured, told more as long, engaging, deeply personal stories that just happen to be hilarious. They’re themed, cohesive and choreographed. Then he transforms them. Most notably in 2008, he opened his one-man show Sleepwalk With Me off-Broadway, which eventually became a feature film and a book of short stories as well.

The Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts—semi-regular host to David Sedaris and Ira Glass—therefore seems like a solid fit for Birbiglia, who will perform his new routine “Thank God for Jokes”  there on Wednesday, December 10. It’s a joke-filled show about jokes—potentially very offensive jokes—and will likely go off-Broadway and be filmed for a special after his more than 100-stop tour.

As he tells the Washington Post: “It’s the most densely joke-populated show I’ve ever done… [It’s about] what they mean to us and how we can get in trouble telling jokes but how, ultimately, they make us closer to people and are worth it for that reason.” 8 p.m. $37. Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts at UC Davis, 1 Peter J. Shields Avenue in Davis; www.mondaviarts.org.