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Interview: Mike Birbiglia Tells the Deeper Story in 'The New One'

Mike Birbiglia talks about the universality of big life changes
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  • The New One
  • Mike Birbiglia talks about the universality of big life changes

Publisher's Summary

With laugh-out-loud funny parenting observations, the New York Times best-selling author and award-winning comedian delivers a book that is perfect for anyone who has ever raised a child, been a child, or refuses to stop acting like one.

In 2016, comedian Mike Birbiglia and poet Jennifer Hope Stein took their 14-month-old daughter, Oona, to the Nantucket Film Festival. When the festival director picked them up at the airport, she asked Mike if he would perform at the storytelling night. She said, "The theme of the stories is jealousy."

Jen quipped, "You're jealous of Oona. You should talk about that."

And so Mike began sharing some of his darkest and funniest thoughts about the decision to have a child. Jen and Mike revealed to each other their sides of what had gone down during Jen's pregnancy and that first year with their child. Over the next couple years, these stories evolved into a Broadway show, and the more Mike performed it, the more he heard how it resonated - not just with parents but also people who resist all kinds of change.

So he pored over his journals, dug deeper, and created this book: The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad. Along with hilarious and poignant stories he has never shared before, this audiobook is sprinkled with poetry Jen wrote as she navigated the same rocky shores of new parenthood.

So here it is. This book is an experiment - sort of like a family.

©2020 Mike Birbiglia and J. Hope Stein (P)2020 Grand Central Publishing

Critic Reviews

"Fusing good humor and raw honesty with selections from Stein's evocative poetry, Birbiglia narrates his journey into parenting...Hilarious, relatable, cringeworthy, and effortlessly entertaining." (Kirkus, starred review)

"This is a brilliant, funny, big-hearted version of he-said, she-said. Birbiglia and Stein trade jokes and poems and splendid storytelling about their roundabout stumble into parenthood. It's hilarious, humane, often beautiful, and absolutely captivating." (Susan Orlean, staff writer at The New Yorker and New York Times best-selling author of The Library Book)

"Mike Birbiglia and Jen Stein are the best collaborators since Emily Dickinson teamed up with her long-winded comedian friend. I'm joking because I cannot express how much this book affected me and how many times it made me cry." (John Mulaney, comedian)

"Wise and wise-assed, the comic hit of the year." (Mary Karr, best-selling author of The Liar's Club, Cherry, and Lit)

"Birbiglia and Stein have not only survived parenthood, they're making their most hilarious and truthful art yet. This book might save your best friend's life." (Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pulitzer Price-winning writer of Hamilton

Editor's Pick

Comedy with a lot of heart
Mike Birbiglia is one of the best storytellers out there today. I think we’re living in a really great era of comedy right now, with a lot of comedians putting out great work, but what Mike Birbiglia does is something special. I don’t think either of the terms "stand-up comedy'' or ''one-man show'' fully encapsulate what it is he does. I’ve talked to both my coworkers and friends a lot about how much I love My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, and I was lucky enough to see The New One live on Broadway, and I’ll just say this: he’s the only comedian that’s ever made me both laugh and cry. There’s a real vulnerability in his work that takes a level of bravery you just don’t get to see that often. I’m really excited about The New One: Painfully True Stories From a Reluctant Dad because at the heart of it is the Broadway show that I loved, but now 4-hours longer with new stories and poetry from his wife, J. Hope Stein, detailing their shared experience about the chaos and beauty of parenthood and change.

What listeners say about The New One

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5 whining hours from formerly-uproarious comedian

Been a fan of Mike’s for years now. Seen him live in Boston, New York… His self-deprecating humor being his mainstay, I expected silly dad stories from him – not a diatribe of whining, “poor me, I’m so ignored” from start to finish. Half of this book isn’t even him – it’s his wife’s blurbs of poetry mostly about fish (clearly an allusion to their kid, but if I wanted to hear poetry I’d buy HER book – does she have one?).
Sorry to say this really has put me off of Mike now. As a two-time father myself, of course I can relate to the initial fear of being left behind in the family unit – but most of us learn what magic there is in being a parent. He seems to come around at the VERY end – but it doesn’t make up for the 98% of the rest of my listening life being lost… sorry to write…

50 people found this helpful

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A poignant and painfully-honest glimpse into the world of Fatherhood.

This isn’t just a book about parenthood. It’s about love, marriage, and truly listening to our partners. It’s the kind of book that made me feel both profoundly lucky to be childfree, and equally as sad that I chose not to have children.

Mike Birbiglia tells his side of the story in a deeply self-reflective, incredibly poignant way. The poems and entries written by his wife, J. Hope Stein are equally as lovely and heart-wrenching. The dual narratives and relentless honesty help elevate this book beyond any other autobiography I’ve read.

It takes an unimaginable amount of courage to be this painfully honest— to the public AND to your spouse. For a husband and wife to collaborate and create something positive from the worst year of their marriage— Well, I felt partly like a voyeur, and partly like I was in therapy.

This was a truly beautiful book, and I can’t recommend it enough.

33 people found this helpful

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subtitle: Men are stupid

so tired of hearing how inconvenient Dads are at parenting. i loved raising my boys. it was one of the great joys of my life. From diaper to potty training, bed time to bath time, being a Dad was a joy.

listening to this book was unbearable and I stopped before I got half way.

32 people found this helpful

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Fan of Mike, not of his book

I learned an important lesson from buying this audiobook. Watching an awesome comic for a set in a venue is not the same as listening to a book by him. This is just not funny. And, although I"m guessing his wife is a very nice person, she and her "poems" shouldn't be on audio either. I'm just not sure what you were thinking. Sorry, Mike. I'll still go to see you live if you happen to be in my area.

28 people found this helpful

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Deep, vulnerable and yet hilarious!

I’m so grateful to MIke Bribiglia and to J. Hope Stein for their vulnerability and willingness to talk about the feelings that many of us have but haven’t been willing to accept. So grateful for your authenticity and humor and for showing us the importance of being authentic and true to ourselves!

16 people found this helpful

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Not a comedy

This felt more like a suicide note. Poems were too soft and hard to hear.

15 people found this helpful

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Funny, heartwarming, and most importantly funny

Mike is a master storyteller that turns vulnerable moments into hilarious anticdotes. It’s emotional, heart warming and beautiful. But all of that would be null and void if it wasn’t funny, but it just so happens to be very funny. It’s rare for a comedian to write a book that doesn’t give you the sense they’re either just bragging or someone else wrote it for them. But Mike’s humor is unique and relatable to every reader.

14 people found this helpful

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ugh

Love Mike Birbiglia. This book is tedious at best. it was probably a very entertaining 2 hour routine. The poetry readings make the rest of the book seem ok by comparison. Couldn't finish it. Someone turn up her volume. no wait, maybe it's better not to hear her clearly...

13 people found this helpful

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Never binged a book before

I loved this book start to finish. It made me feel a lot of things and I learn a lot. Would recommend

8 people found this helpful

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Heartfelt and funny. Just what I expected.

Mike Birbiglia is a master of blending hysterical, witty comedy with tender moments and heartfelt delivery. The nature of his prior comedy specials contain so much personal historical narrative that he leaves us feeling like we know him (and Jen) more than we really do.

So, that being the case, I had a hunch how this book might play out. I can't say I was right about the details, but the inside look at their honest discussions about the topic of having a child was spot-on.

Weaving Jen's poetry into the story was a beautiful touch.

Great listen.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Peter O'Bree
  • 03-05-21

excellent

awesome book and well narrated
would recommend easily to anyone, enjoyed the poems snuck in there.

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  • Dave
  • 02-11-21

Dark but Funny

I laughed out loud in public as I used this for dog walking, telling the truth about becoming a father and touching those points we never admit too. Great job

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-08-20

So funny

I loved this audiobook! Most of the books about parenting are so boring. This one is great, funny and easy to follow. It is great to hear father’s perspectives on having a baby.

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  • Mr. A. G. Kay
  • 06-23-20

The exact amount of information I was looking for.

This was great, funny and enlightening. I was worried at first because I'd heard there might be too much information, but I was hoping for plenty of information. In the end it turned out to contain just the right amount. Well done, Birbigs.