Mike Birbiglia’s latest one-man show will launch globally on Netflix on Nov. 26 — news that arrives just before a monthlong run of “Mike Birbiglia: The New One” kicks off at Los Angeles’ Ahmanson Theatre on Wednesday.
“Broadway was already this terrifying and inconceivable dream come true, so the fact that this show is going to Netflix and will reach the number of people it does is honestly amazing,” Birbiglia told the Los Angeles Times.
Directed by Seth Barrish and filmed at the Cort Theatre on Broadway, “The New One” sees Birbiglia opening up about the highs and lows of bringing a child into the world. The comedian spent a few years writing the 90-minute show with his wife, Jennifer Hope Stein, and based the material on his experiences during the first 13 months of daughter Oona’s life.
“She’s 4 years old now, and she’s incredible,” Birbiglia said of Oona, who is coming to Los Angeles with Stein for the five-week run, the final stop of the tour. “But we were writing it when the wounds of that time were very fresh, and all that friction and pain and frustration are interesting for a play.”
It’s a period Birbiglia has been discussing onstage since “The New One” debuted off-Broadway over a year ago. His memoir, “The New One: Painfully True Stories From a Reluctant Dad,” will hit shelves in May.
“Yeah, I’m done talking about parenting,” he joked. “My statement for all of time is, basically, nobody knows anything, and all you can do is your best.”
Netflix aired Birbiglia’s 2017 special, “Thank God for Jokes.” The streaming service’s comedy archive houses standup sets alongside specials like Hasan Minhaj’s “Homecoming King,” Colin Quinn’s “The New York Story” and John Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” — one-man specials that are structured similarly to Birbiglia’s work.
“The only game in town for years for comedy specials without commercials was HBO,” Birbiglia said. “But their sensibility of what they programmed didn’t really fit with what I do. I’m not edgy, I don’t curse a ton, and I do more of a long-form storytelling thing than stand-up.
“That they’re interested in something that’s more free-form and less defined, it’s great in terms of getting my shows out to the universe,” he said. But then he realized what he had just admitted on the record.
“That’s literally something I’ve never said to anyone, and I’m happy to say it, but it actually also gives me terrible leverage for my next negotiation,” he said with a laugh. “I’m basically saying, ‘There’s actually no one else I want to make my special, so you can just give me a dollar next time.’ ”
Will the announcement discourage potential audiences from buying tickets to the show at the Ahmanson?
“Live theater offers an experience unlike any other. Our audiences are drawn to that, so I see the streaming of ‘The New One’ as only helping our run,” said Center Theatre Group producing director Douglas C. Baker.
“The Netflix announcement will remind audiences that this very special performer and performance is available to be seen live only at the Ahmanson,” he said. “And for those who don’t get to see him live, they will be afforded the opportunity to see it on Netflix.”