The New One

Wow, you've been such a great audience! You made it through my first post and wanted more? I'm honored. Let's discuss the most recent play I saw, The New One with Mike Birbiglia.

Apparently other's are familiar with Mr. Birbiglia's previous work, I am not, however that made this play all the better. In fact I went in with the following knowledge.

  1. It's called The New One, completely undescriptive.
  2. A bunch of celebrities are quoted saying I should see it.
  3. It's supposed to be funny.
  4. It's a one act deal.

That's about it. To make this experience even less researched, I arrived at the box office an hour before curtain. They still had rush tickets available.

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First show of the year and it's a new one.

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How do I do this?

My first written theater review, let's see if I can pull this off with only mild spoilers. Also, you did come for my opinion, right?

The New One is effectively split into three thirty minute acts which I have given my own titles:

  1. Mike is a mediocre person.
  2. Mike is a bad husband.
  3. Mike is an atrocious father.

Mike is a Mediocre Person

Mike takes this act to discuss all the things wrong with him and furthermore, why he's not fit to have kids. It kills! He successfully threads the needle of jokes that seem all over the place, yet constantly call back to each other. I particularly enjoyed his laundry list of medical conditions.

Mike is a Bad Husband

Surprise! His wife decides she wants a baby, and of course they eventually get pregnant. This act is quite funny although doesn't quite live up to act one. In the first act Mike is relatable, in this one he's the guy you tell your friend to break up with.

To give the show credit, this transition is initially very subtle. It reminded me a bit of the transition with Walt in Breaking Bad. On the first viewing you're rooting for him much longer than subsequent ones. I wonder what would happen if I saw it again.

Mike is an Atrocious Father

The baby is born and the show has one last amazing joke before it takes a turn for the worse. You'll know the joke when you see it. As the show goes on Mike becomes harder and harder to relate to and eventually he says the line that ruins his character: "I get why dads leave."

Now would be a good time to mention his wife co-wrote the show; for her sake I hope this is all very exaggerated.

The audience of course doesn't realize this transition immediately. I certainly didn't. For the most part we laugh along at the jokes and callbacks to the earlier acts.

The ending is, strange. It feels like The New One wants to end on a warm note, but doesn't pull it off.


I'm going to go ahead and invent my own star rating scale.

Humor: 4/5 - Overall I spent most of the play laughing, and really what else are we there for?

Affordability: 5/5 - My rush ticket was $40 and available an hour before curtain.

Repeatability: 1/5 - I have no desire to see this show a second time.

Overall: 4/5 - If you're looking to turn your brain off and enjoy a funny, cheap show, this is what you're looking for.

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