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Jon Stewart: Ernie Anastos Stole My Catch Phrase Before They Get Stale: Joel McHale, Amy Poehler and Bob Saget
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56218501Mike Birbiglia is one of the best storytelling comedians around. His stories have the great quality of seeming light on the surface, but they contain an honest and truthful substance at their core. Storytelling can seem deceptively simple, but it is actually a rather difficult form of comedy to tackle. Luckily for us, the A.V. Club got Birbiglia to share some of his storytelling tips…

Step 1: Don't plan anything

A lot of times the best way to find out what the story is about is to walk onstage without having it completely nailed down… You get onstage and the audience is staring at you. You’re feeling out the crowd, and you’re feeling out what they’re identifying with, and you kind of go to that…

Step 2: Figure out the starting point

…Sometimes I’ll have a story that doesn’t connect with the audience, but they connect with some minor detail. I had that recently… I had this throwaway line where I say, "And it was the first time I’d ever gotten applause in a basketball gymnasium," and people laughed at that part of it versus the rest of the story. So I started delving into why that was the case: “As a kid, I actually remember that basketball is the only sport in which I’ve ever cried while playing in a game.” And then I told that story….

Step 3: Script it

I’ll take recordings of telling it [onstage] four or five times, listen for where the laughs are and what the interesting parts are. Then I’ll try and write a draft of the story. There’s a few people I’m close with who I show stuff to… And tell them to be really critical. Take in the criticisms…

You should really go ahead and read the whole thing. Even if you aren't interested in performing storytelling comedy, it's an interesting peek into how Birbiglia crafts his own stories.

Also, if this made you interested in checking out Mike Birbiglia, you can see him at the New York Comedy Festival on November 5. Or catch one of the other shows in his I'm In the Future Also tour.

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