Introducing : Mike Birbiglia’s Working It Out (with Elyse Myers)
I’m super excited to share with you my appearance on Mike Birbiglia’s Working It Out podcast. You know Mike Birbiglia. He’s an award-winning comedian, actor, filmmaker, author. He’s also the host of the podcast Working It Out, where he invites on creatives like Bill Hader, Stephen Colbert, Quinta Brunson, Ira Glass, Drew Barrymore, and they discuss their creative process and work out material. It’s like a fly on the wall creative writing session. I was on Working It Out last month and I’m going to share that episode with you.
Mike and I talk about storytelling, and he makes a very strong case for me to be telling stories live on stage. I also give him some notes and ideas on two stories he’s working on for his new hour of comedy. It was super fun and I think you’ll really enjoy it!
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Mike Birbiglia, Elyse Myers
Elyse Myers 01:22
Hello, I’m Elyse Myers. I am super excited to share with you my appearance on Mike Birbiglia’s working out podcast. You know Mike Birbiglia. He’s an award winning comedian, actor, filmmaker, author. He’s also the host of the podcast, working it out where he invites creatives like Bill Hader, Stephen Colbert, Quinta Brunson, Ira Glass, Drew Barrymore, and they discuss their creative process and workout material. It’s like being a fly on the wall for a creative writing session. I was on working it out last month. So I’m going to share that episode with you right now, Mike, and I talk storytelling. And he makes a very strong case for me to be telling stories live on the stage. I also give him some notes and ideas on to stories that he’s working on for his new hour of comedy. It was so fun. And I think that you’re really going to enjoy it.
Mike Birbiglia 02:19
You talking about postpartum depression that you experienced? And and how can you describe it? And I’m going to do a terrible job of explaining this. But you describe it through the specificity of your hands. Yeah. And you’re going through depression. And it was one of those things where it’s like you have is really specific approach which is attacking a really macro idea with mundane, smaller thing. Yeah, I was just curious, like, how do you arrive at that?
Elyse Myers 02:49
Well, I honestly, I think that it comes from like, I can’t interpret postpartum depression for anybody else. I can’t interpret most common shared experiences through any other lens of my own. And so to me, it’s like, if I try and personalize something so big to so small is like, this is how I experienced this thing. In one part of my brain, I’m like, well, then that’s not relevant to anybody else, because that’s just your experience. But in doing that, and breaking into such, like a molecular level of like, my postpartum depression was experienced and started to I kind of like, found my way out of it by looking at my hands and going, these are the same hands. You got married with, like, people hear that? And though it feels so personal, to me, they’re like, No, I have felt that too. Because it’s so specific. They feel like you’re reading their mind. Yeah. And that is like an instant connection point. It’s not, I’m not trying to manipulate anybody, I’m not trying to, like, make this relatable. I just, I want to give people such specific information about my life and my feelings in the way I experience something. So that just on the off chance that they have also experienced that I don’t have to explain to you anything else about postpartum depression. I know and or you know that I know that we have experienced the same thing. Yeah. And I think that like, that’s my goal is like, I want to talk about the things big things, but make them feel like you’re reading my diary in like a non traumatic way, like not like so uncomfortable that you’re like, I shouldn’t be reading this, but like, so personal that you’re like me too. Same.
Mike Birbiglia 04:11
And it’s interesting, because like, you’re talking about, like, using the specific to convey a universal and like, that’s, you know, that’s an idea that people talk about in writing all the time, but you do it so effectively, because I found like, when I was hearing you tell that story. I’m like, oh, yeah, I totally know what she means. And yet, I did not do that. Yeah, I did not look at my hands. I did not. But for me, it’s like kind of like my sleepwalking story where it’s like, I jumped through second story window. Very few people have done that. Not a lot. But hopefully you tell I tell the story in a way where people go, Oh, I have a thing like that where I’m uncomfortable telling that right about myself.
Elyse Myers 04:53
Well, you the way that you do and I feel like we’re similar in this is that you’re not talking so much about the experience. You’re talking about how you internalized it. Yeah, and that is what makes it relatable as well, because it’s like someone doesn’t have to have had to jump out of a second story window. But you can explain how it felt what you were thinking. And like that whole, that’s a whole journey that you can feel about messing up someone else’s name when like calling out their coffee order that doesn’t have to be so extreme, like, someone with anxiety can literally feel like messing up someone’s name is like jumping out of a second story window. And like, those are the same feelings. And so being able to, to express that internal dialogue that’s happening with you and your life is like, the most crucial part I think of making any situation relatable to somebody.
Mike Birbiglia 05:35
It’s interesting, like their Jessica gross wrote this piece in The Times, recently about she was talking about Maggie Smith’s book that just came out. And John Mulaney has comedy special that just came out and and how both of them call out that they’re telling autobiographical stories, but this is what I’m this is the part I’m choosing to tell you. And and they just hang a lantern on it. Yeah, that was really interesting. And it’s like, I was thinking about with your stuff, like, Do you have a code for yourself with like, I’m not going to talk about these things.
Elyse Myers 06:14
I think that some of it is a feeling some of its pre like decided, I think that if it’s not my story to tell, that’s an immediate No, like, if it’s not, if I’m breaking the like crossing a line of like sharing information that it’s just not mine. Like that’s not a story I tell. But then there’s stuff that is mine to tell. But it directly affects people that I love. And that’s if they if they’re not the ones that have decided to be in this position and in the spotlight, like they have not asked for this life like so that’s not fair either. So there’s, there’s some of that, and then some of it’s like, I just want my some of my life to be private. And I want my family to feel like we’re still a family. And it’s not the three of us, and then the rest of the world as well. Also in our home all the time. Yeah. And so a lot of it is like just between me and my husband, like we share stories about us, we don’t really talk about our son very much or like, yeah, we try and have these like very loose boundaries that are probably going to change and sometimes grow and sometimes get much closer and you know, keep things more close to us. But I know that there are things that we don’t share, but it’s kind of just a figure it out as we go. But some things you just have a gut feeling of like, this just isn’t my story to tell. Yeah, do you have a very clear cut?
Mike Birbiglia 07:24
My mind is pretty clear. It’s like, there’s people in my life I talk about a lot like my wife, Jenny, and our daughter, Luna. And my brother Joe and my parents. And But uh, yeah, I’m not, you know, I don’t post photos of my daughter. Like that. I feel like that’s her life. And I think increasingly, I’m talking less about her like in the last show. Yeah, she has like five or six lines, whereas in the new one when she was a baby, I feel like it’s, it could be any baby or things.
Elyse Myers 08:02
I’m curious like for you specifically. And I know this your podcast, so you can cut all this out? But like, what is it like doing all of this while still having a family? And like, how do you how do you balance that? Because I’m trying to find that right now?
Mike Birbiglia 08:14
I don’t think it’s possible.
Elyse Myers 08:17
That’s a really honest answer.
Mike Birbiglia 08:22
No, I think I mean, one thing I’m lucky about is, is that my wife, Jenny is a poet and, and she reads my stuff, and I read her stuff, and we interact on, you know, and so if if there’s stuff that she doesn’t like, and I didn’t say that I said more like this, and blah, blah, blah, we talk it out. And a lot of times over the years, with the new one, she was a writer or credited writer on the show. And, and, and it’s like, I feel like we get through. But it’s also doesn’t mean it’s not challenging. Yeah, yeah, it’s definitely like, you know, because in marriage, you have two people who are witnessing almost identical events. Yeah. And remembering them two very different ways.
Elyse Myers 09:09
Oh, my gosh, yes.
Mike Birbiglia 09:11
So like, I have a joke. And I’ll usually I do this in the Materials section. But I’ll just say a joke that I have. That’s new at my show, which is like, many years ago, we’re in Chicago. Jenny and I are on an elevator, hotel elevator coming down, and we stayed in the hotel before. And I said to where I go, it just occurred to me, Oh, we stayed in this hotel before and you loved the cafe in the lobby. And then her response was, she goes, who did? And I was like, oh, no.
Mike Birbiglia 09:46
You got that very quickly, in terms of audiences don’t get it as quickly so the subtext of it is a no that wasn’t me that be that must have been someone else you were seeing. See, I’m not happy about this and get filled lobby doors open. And she goes, I love this cafe. And I was like, I almost died in the elevator. And you just casually remembered that I’m right. So anyway, so now Jenny and I, we have a safe word in our marriage. And it’s who did. And it’s when we we remember an event differently. Wow. Yeah, it’s involved.
Elyse Myers 10:24
That is a very that’s a so many layers because I could see someone interpreting that as like, did I love it? Or did you love it? Or like, did I love it? Or did someone else that you saw stayed here with love it? Oh, yeah. That’s how I would have interpreted the who did first. But then the second time, they know, that’s what he thought was someone else?
Mike Birbiglia 10:42
I don’t even know. Like, literally over the years, we’ve had a lot who did? I mean? That’s the thing about I mean, it’s this speaks to storytelling in a general sense, too. It’s like, it’s like, we’re all remembering things in different way. We perceive everything like, I’m very visual. Yeah. And Jen has an extraordinary sense of hearing and smell. And my sense of smells, junk. Great. I love that. I love that for you. So like, she’ll be like, I smell mildew. And I’m like, I smell nothing.
Elyse Myers 11:20
I haven’t smelled anything for a year. Yeah. Yeah. First of all, I am the smell. 100%. Yeah, Jonas is the auditory I am the smell. I am the long term memory Jonas’s the short term memory. Like I cannot remember what happened yesterday, but I could literally word for word detail for detail tell you the time that I like slept on a penny to get out of school and ended up actually accidentally faking an appendicitis and every single thing that doctors said like leaped on a penny sucked on a penny stock. I heard that. Yeah, I heard a rumor that if you slept on a penny, it would make your mouth really hot. And you remember like the temperature like thermometers that had the blue dots that you like, yeah. And so it like was off the charts. And she’s like, Oh my gosh, so then did a digital one. And then she was like, You need to go to the hospital right now. Like 110 degree, like so hot from this penny. Have you heard that? Do you hear this story? I’ve heard no, no. Okay. Well, so that Yeah. So then I so then I’m like faking it. And I’m really trying to sell it because my first two friends went in before me and they couldn’t sell it. Yeah. So I was like, well, it’s up to me. Now. You know what I mean? I really want to go home. So now I’m like, I’m very unwell. And she’s like, You need to go to the doctor. And I’m like, that’s not what I just wanted to go home. I don’t want to go to the doctor that like ruins the whole point. Yeah. So then I can go to the doctor the doctor and I’m like, down like I have a psychotic like my low at my side. And in my doctors like you need to take her across the street to like the pediatrician like hospital like, you know, child hospital right now. At this point. I’m in second grade. Wow. Like, and then now I’m trying to like from the doctors, the hospital trying to tell them like, I was lying. But now they think I’m telling them. I’m like lying about lying because they think I just don’t want to go to the hospital. Right? And they were like, you definitely have independence. And I was like, I do not I just wanted a day off. Like, please do not like take me to the hospital. I was admitted for three days. Because they could not believe that I was lying because I kept they just weren’t that I was afraid at that point. You had told them everyone I had told everybody I was and I tried to fake you out. They were like, Oh, we have to check because because it with a kid. They’re very cautious about like, parent and child dynamic and like, Safe at Home like all of that. So all of that was happening and I’m just I just felt so bad. I’m trying to my mom and I lied. So she’s trying to tell them that I lied. And then that makes it look worse because if a parents like their kids are lying then that’s like makes it even it was it was a whole situation and finally I got out yeah and I shared a wrong they feel like they have to lie yes why did why does she need Why does she need to lie to get out of school like all of it. And I shared a room with a girl that was actually like had an appendicitis and was like I’m about to burst like Get me out of here like my appendix doesn’t want to be my body anymore. And I’m just sitting there like can I order another thing and mashed potatoes because those were so good. Like yeah, so I got my day off three days Oh my god I don’t remember why I started that story. Oh the second on the penny memory Oh memory. Yep. Yeah. So there you go. See no short term memory but I have.
Elyse Myers 15:59
Why would you say yeah, that is why are we talking about that memory see? That was great. Very strong and seeing and this is our improv group.
Mike Birbiglia 16:09
That’s why you got to do this week, though. I go. I was like, it was a zero episode. We talked about how you don’t perform on stage. Yeah. And I think you’re a wonderful storyteller. And I feel like you could really connect with people. And if you were in a room with them in a way that what you do on socials is is deep but I think that in a room could be deep in a different way. Yeah. And you and on on your podcast, which I love. You said I’ve just terrified of, of terrified being in front of people. And then I was like, so then I’m doing a bunch of shows and working on new material. And I was like, you know, you could just if you wanted to you could just pop in be an unbuilt gas. And no one would know you it would just feel like my friend Elise is here. She can tell story for seven minutes, whatever and then you could, then you wouldn’t be afraid of it anymore. And then you were like, That’s definitely
Elyse Myers 17:50
How it works too. Yeah. Definitely.
Mike Birbiglia 17:57
Elyse Myers 18:00
That’s on me. That’s an on you. I love that you’re so caught up there like, and then it’s done, you’re cured. And then that’s it.
Mike Birbiglia 18:06
Weirdly, I believe that to be true. And I stand by it.
Elyse Myers 18:10
I believe I believe that you believe that, 100%.
Mike Birbiglia 18:13
A burned man standing before you I double down, I double down.
Elyse Myers 18:20
But that is why you’re doing what you’re doing is because you believe you have such confidence. And I know I am not I don’t think I can’t do it. I know I can do. It’s the it’s you want to know what it is honestly, it’s the fear that like, I can’t blame it on anyone else. But me, I get them. And with online, I don’t have to have any immediate reaction from anybody I tell a story that I find funny. And if you don’t like it, then you’re not going to see the video. And that’s fine, because I don’t have to see your reaction. I don’t have to let go in the comments. I can blame it on the algorithm. If it doesn’t do well. Like there are so many things that that can play into a video not getting seen. And so if I am standing in front of an audience, and I say something and it is silent. I think I would just start crying like I genuinely I am so I fake so much confidence that that would be a moment I could feel that a confidence would genuinely crumble. Yeah. Now will that stop me from doing it? No, because like I do not want there to be anything in my life that I was like too afraid to do just didn’t do it. So I want to get to that point. But now it’s to the point where it’s like the skill of writing a set that is concise and like performable in front of people and not edit, edit it like that is what I don’t have. And so I don’t I wouldn’t even know where to start. If you’re to be like, here’s the seven minutes. Yes.
Mike Birbiglia 19:44
So, take the story you just taught by faking sick, and you just memorize it. You already know it. Yeah, you go on stage in an environment like being a guest. I don’t want my shows where like people aren’t expecting to see you and they go okay. What’s this? You do three minutes you tell that story. I’m just gonna tell you one story tonight. And it might not be funny. And then you tell us during your walk off stage and they go, Ah, there’s a couple laughs there’s a laugh. Here’s, here’s love. Here’s what I’ll hear how come this didn’t get a laugh? And then you start to take it apart and just go like, like, oh, okay, if I supplemented a joke here, or I dropped in a joke that I tell usually in another story, here or here. And I think like, because because here’s my question use like, it’s like, what, like, in your mind, what’s the worst thing that can happen? Like if I if I, if I had three onstage in a black box theater with 100 people in the audience, like what? Like, is like, hey, just do walk up and tell story for three or four minutes, just like we’re doing now. But there’s 100 people. Yeah, worst thing that can happen.
Elyse Myers 20:48
I think honestly, the worst thing that could happen is like, well, I’m terrified of fainting in front of a bunch. But second, like, I don’t know how you do it with, like, if someone has one impression of you, that’s the only time they’re ever going to might see you on a performance. And they’re going to walk away. And that is the thing they’re going to remember about you. And that’s hard to change when somebody has formed an opinion of like, she’s not good at this. Like, it’s really hard to come back from that versus like, someone being really good at something once and then being terrible at it the next time being like, oh, but she’s actually good. I saw her last time she’s really good. So I don’t I that’s just a confidence thing to like, like, not caring, like.
Mike Birbiglia 21:30
I’m gonna I’m gonna do a double step process for you getting on stage because I’m taking I’m taking apart all of the love the way all the very little did. They’d say this. I mean, this is like an old thing in sales is like, is like if someone doesn’t want to buy something go through all Yeah, all the other objections be like, Okay, what about this? What about this? How? Yeah, and was yours is like, Okay, well, people will be like, Oh, she’s not good at this. Well, then we do a thing where I do a show somewhere. You’re not build no one knows. It’s not featuring.
Elyse Myers 22:05
I don’t even like invoice like, like I’m going to biller for that. I’m just like, I didn’t realize that’s how that work that feels backwards.
Mike Birbiglia 22:12
Do I charge you $40,000 to walk on stage with me? Because honestly, it’s gonna pay off in the long term.
Elyse Myers 22:20
It’s an investment in your future. Like you’re on my stage. This is great for you.
Mike Birbiglia 22:25
My weird pyramid scheme in my middle age.
Elyse Myers 22:29
You go and you get 10 Comedians, and you can take a cut of that 40 grand. And at the end of the day, you’ll be a millionaire.
Mike Birbiglia 22:37
You have a real conspiratorial mind all these buyers. afraid of everything. Yeah, exactly. You’re really, you’re really throwing punches where there’s no foe.
Elyse Myers 22:48
I’ve seen so many documentaries about it, it’s amazing.
Mike Birbiglia 22:52
So here’s the plan. Here’s your plan. You so we’re in mass and you’re unbilled In other words, it doesn’t say at least Meyers anywhere on the thing. Yeah. It’s just a Mike Birbiglia show in the middle of Chicago. Oh, my friend is here tonight. She’s one of my favorite storytellers. I’m gonna bring her up on stage. Please welcome my buddy Elise Meyers. And she, you come on stage? We have two microphones. I go, will you tell the story about this? You tell the story. We’re both on stage. And then you’re like, okay, and then there’s like the two person thing. And then you go, Well, what would it be like if it was one person just May? The next time, like a stair step.
Elyse Myers 23:28
I really liked that. I really liked that. I think honestly, like, any anything is possible. It’s not I really genuinely feel like the fears that you’re asking me, what I’m telling you about aren’t things that are gonna keep me from doing it from this point forward. It’s just like, this is the irrational thing that’s happening in my brain that gets in the way as I try and write. And so the longer that I’ve been in this career, too. And the more people I’ve met, and the bigger the crowds that I’ve I’ve spoken to just about like even yesterday, the event.
Mike Birbiglia 23:56
We’ve done that which is the same thing, basically.
Elyse Myers 23:58
Yeah, I’m not I’m not, but the pressure to.
Mike Birbiglia 24:01
You didn’t. You didn’t event yesterday, where you were kind of on a panel.
Elyse Myers 24:05
Yeah. Me. Someone asked me just me questions. Yeah. But the pressure to be funny. That is the part that is like, the scary part for me, because I can I feel very comfortable talking. It’s like, it’s just I don’t know, it’s like this weird. It’s like when I when I get asked to like act in something, I’m aware that you know, I’m acting and so I feel like I’m lying and you’re like she’s lying. She’s This isn’t her. So the the the the weird understanding of like, I’m at a comedy show and this person is going to make me laugh is that is what’s interesting because that that pressure isn’t in a in a tick tock because nobody knows the point of a video when it starts. It whatever happens in the video happens and it’s like, so So at a comedy show, the expectation is like you need to be funny, you need to make me laugh, and then that’s where I feel like if I don’t meet that I’ve totally failed, but it’s just that’s just comes from an experience. And so I think that learning how to structure a story and and honestly, I was going to Ask you like so if I were to tell a story on a stage, the, because it’s like the punch line situation like the punch line. I mean, like the actual, this whole punch line situation. Look, listen. And if I always fail, just like go to like Jerry Seinfeld, like jazz, like just go straight, I think the comedy equivalent of like, and then I found $5 kind of thing. But anyways.
Mike Birbiglia 25:23
I don’t follow that.
Elyse Myers 25:27
Have you ever been telling you, maybe it’s not a well known thing? It’s my brothers and me. You know, like when you’re telling a story, and someone’s like, this is not an interesting story. And then you’re like, and then I found by.
Mike Birbiglia 25:38
Very funny. I like that a lot.
Elyse Myers 25:42
And then someone’s like, Oh, my God, no way. And so your it makes everything else you just said completely irrelevant that up? I don’t know. I thought everyone did that.
Mike Birbiglia 25:50
You thought that that was like a street joke. Like, yeah, like it’s common to man.
Elyse Myers 25:53
Well, yeah, but then me and my brothers like burn each other. Because if you’re telling a really like boring story, you’re like, did you find $5?
Mike Birbiglia 26:00
That’s so funny. My joke about that universe is that I go, like, once a week, my dad will call me and he’ll be like, the craziest thing happened. I’m like, what he’ll be like, I was at the hardware store. And I was, and I was talking to someone, and they had heard of you. And I was like, that’s not the craziest thing. That’s not a story.
Elyse Myers 26:22
Crazy. That is a fact. That’s just something that happened. It is a fact about your day.
Mike Birbiglia 26:27
I find that very often. People will come up to me, and they’ll be like, I have a crazy story. And then they tell it and you go, you’re kind of waiting for the story to start. But actually, last night, I was I was doing this benefit show where a guy actually told me when it was pretty good. Like when he first met his wife, like, I think he’s, I think it was his mother in law. was making chicken and they ran out of chicken. And then she offered. She was like she was offering everybody more chicken. And someone said yes. And there wasn’t chicken. So she literally did the thing where she covered bones with skin and put it on someone’s plate. And then the person was like, but what it this is not chicken. And it was like one of the rare moments where I was like, this is a pretty good story. I think it was him meeting his wife many years ago. It was like, Is the inlaws did people watch it happen? Oh, so I think it was like pretty outward facing at the party. Like it was a thing that happened. I know. And I was like, I don’t have the answers. It’s not my story. But I did that I said to him, I go, usually people tell me stories, and they’re not that great. And that actually is kind of a great tidbit.
Elyse Myers 27:43
I would love for someone to tell me that story for 10 minutes with every detail that I possibly get.
Mike Birbiglia 27:50
But back to you performing. So again, this is the key is the key pivot. This is where it becomes actualized Yeah. What’s the upside of you telling his story on stage?
Elyse Myers 28:03
I conquer one of my greatest fears. And it’s a huge success and I to keep doing it right. And I become wildly successful as a stand up comedian. Okay. I have a lot of fun doing it.
Mike Birbiglia 28:16
That’s five I’ll give you six. You make people happy? Yeah, I think you would. We can do it. You’d make people happy.
Elyse Myers 28:26
Thank you. All happy. Thank you.
Mike Birbiglia 28:30
I just think there’s there’s nothing that compares to the live experience. Although Yeah, I have to say like, like, what is the thing that when you’re making these videos that most gratifying.
Elyse Myers 28:41
So I’ve talked about it a little bit I have three like values that I It sounds so serious, but like three values that I cycle every single piece of content through is are filtered through is to make people feel like known loved and like they belong in which is like so sappy. It’s like That’s not funny, but, but with all of that, when I tell stories that people can relate to that’s like the known it’s like that’s why it’s funny is like, that’s me and that story or like, when I encourage people I want them to feel loved if they don’t have that in their life and like they could they belong I want to build that community in my content that which is why I’m always in my comments and why I don’t tell jokes that put other people down and like that’s just because that’s my style of comedy. Yeah. And so those three things are my goal. And so while that might not sound funny, comedy can happen through those and still bring a lot of value to people’s lives. So at the end of the day, the laugh is great, but that’s not the end goal. It’s to make people known loved or like they belong.
Mike Birbiglia 29:38
This is called this is called the slow round. What’s it what’s the song that makes you cry?
Elyse Myers 29:43
Oh, gosh. Be very unexpected. I’m not like a religious person. But during Christmas time when I hear Mary did you know it really gets me I don’t know if you’ve seen them. Or you did you know when your baby boy did it, it gives it to applying it. It’s like, it’s a song talking to Mary about her son. Like, did you know your son was going to be Jesus?
Mike Birbiglia 30:13
I think this must be like a local Omaha thing.
Elyse Myers 30:16
It’s really not Clay Aiken singing it. I know.
Mike Birbiglia 30:22
You’ve heard of it. Oh, it’s a big.
Elyse Myers 30:24
It’s a huge subject. Yeah, but it’s feel it because Naspers being a mom, I don’t that so I’m just like, my son’s gonna be crazy. Like, it’s a very it’s her son’s gonna be Jesus. No, no, but it like it’s a very powerful image of like talking to a mom about like, did you have any clue? Like, what your son would do?
Mike Birbiglia 30:43
Oh, that’s sweet. It’s a little bit like dear Theodosia is like that. Where it’s like emotional in this kind of letter to my child. Yeah.
Elyse Myers 30:51
Now whether you believe the the, the stories that are being sung about Yeah, the theme is like, this man did these great things. And you’re singing to the mom of this man of like, did you have any clue who would do and that’s a very powerful image. That song always makes me cry.
Mike Birbiglia 31:07
Yeah, that’s a good one.
Elyse Myers 31:08
What about you?
Mike Birbiglia 31:10
I can’t make you love me, Bonnie. Okay. What’s a specific place? That isn’t your home at where you feel like home.
Elyse Myers 31:20
Man. Isn’t my home that I feel like home? This isn’t like a place but it’s like a place within any place is on the floor. Behind like a chair or couch where I’m like hiding.
Mike Birbiglia 31:35
I love that. Feel so dark. No, I don’t think it’s dark.
Elyse Myers 31:39
I really like being in small spaces that feel like my own that. I’m like, I’m good. No one’s gonna come like bother me here. Yeah, I’m a cat.
Mike Birbiglia 31:49
My cats do that. Yeah, you can you have cats?
Elyse Myers 31:53
No, I am a cat.
Mike Birbiglia 31:55
Like, yeah, my cats go places. And we’re like, I guess the cats ran away?
Elyse Myers 32:00
Like, I think she died down there. I don’t really know.
Mike Birbiglia 32:03
But we can’t find them. Yeah, we’re just like, I guess they got out.
Elyse Myers 32:07
Yeah, I was like, always my signal to my roommates that like, I would work on the floor, I’d have my laptop on the ground. And we had a table we have, like, I could have gone anywhere. But we had a couch that was like, kind of back to facing like the sliding door to our balcony. And I would lay on the floor and do all my homework there. And it was kind of like this unspoken thing of like, if I’m here, kind of just like life is a little bit too much. And I just want to be here and do my work. And I’ll come out and everything will be good. And when I talk about it. That’s that’s a very good card reads that.
Mike Birbiglia 32:36
I love that. I have a deep connection to like, my parents childhood carpet. Like when I was a kid their bedroom carpet in the summer, when because they had the only air conditioning unit in the house. And so when it got super hot Massachusetts in the summer, and it got really hot, I would go in and sleep on the floor and I remember the smell of the carpet.
Elyse Myers 32:57
The carpet get cold if you walked in. I love that. Nice.
Mike Birbiglia 33:02
Very nostalgic for me. You talk with some of your stories. Maybe you don’t doubt it. Do you remember the toughest crush from your childhood?
Elyse Myers 33:16
I do. It was a boy I really really liked in and we dated and he was like my best friend and we actually dated twice the first time he asked me out as a prank and like yeah, and then we like dated but like it didn’t talk for the whole week we dated and then like I got broken up with by like a casual conversation like raw dating still right? The second time we we dated for like a year and we were like best friends and we just never we were never meant to date we were always meant to be best friends but we didn’t know that because you think if you like someone and they’re the opposite gender and you’re in high school, then the natural next step is like then we should date but like never like just stay friends. Yeah, and we we dated and then one day we were like we should just go back to being best friends and we just did and nothing changed like we were just like very very good friends and we still communicate today and it’s like a really really sweet.
Mike Birbiglia 34:07
What’s your takeaway from the experience?
Elyse Myers 34:11
I think that like not everything that you not everything that’s good needs to be elevated to be more than that like sometimes you’re it’s okay that like something that’s like good just leave it at good. It doesn’t have to be like great like yeah, like because great could ruin good and like just leave it good sometimes.
Elyse Myers 34:43
This is a section of the show called from the notebook. And it’s gonna start with us when one morning I’m at a cafe and I dropped guna it was three at the time at like musical camp or ballet or some kind of group activity where you can leave your child for three hours. It could have been like a bin that said toddlers and that would be like dropped her and been like enjoy bin class. And so I’m with the other like bin class parents at a cafe. And I’m exhausted holding a coffee. And I look up to sort of take in the nature of the day. And from about 30 feet in the air a birch it’s in my eye. Like directly into my eye. And first of all, great aim, bird. Way to go bird. You really nailed it. Second of all, if this hasn’t happened to you, all you need to know is that anything dropped from 30 feet in the air in your eye hurts physically a lot. Yes. But when the cumbersome liquid pellet is fecal matter, it hurts spiritually. The whole emotional and I shouted, I go or as my daughter Luna used to use when describing her favorite dinosaur the hooting Hydras or I squawked.
Elyse Myers 37:55
I need to hear an example. Ah, okay.
Mike Birbiglia 37:59
So the moment I squawked my friend Rob, who was with me knows I’m a comedian looks over to me. And he goes well, it’s good material. Yeah. And I was like, Rob There’s there’s still bird shit in my eye.
Elyse Myers 38:15
This is something you say after I’ve cleaned it up.
Mike Birbiglia 38:17
Comedy is tragedy plus time and yeah, still have the burden of time yeah. We’re gonna need zero seconds pass. And Jack back into the coffee shop. As for glass water, flush my eye with water. On the plus side, the bird shit really woke me up which was the point of the cafe in the first place right? And then it’s so disgusting the coffee was nice but the 70 mile an hour bird shit delivery really close the deal. I feel like they can market that as a bird shit latte. Drink two shots of espresso a bird jets and your eye 40 bucks and Charentais exactly in Northern California. They’d call it a bird shit cleanse people would say have you done the Birgit cleanse fun well expensive, but they do have to pay the pigeon wrangler Yeah, my bird should experience drove home a larger point in my life which is that comedy is tragedy plus time or very least pain plus a year. So as I arrived at middle age I’ve started to zero in on my purpose and I think it’s to share stories that weren’t funny at the time. But I’d like to think are funny now. And of course I’m just mocking myself to be clear in my stories because in my stories for the most part I’m the joke later yeah, which is harkens back to a line from another.
Elyse Myers 39:43
No hate to the bird, I loved the bird.
Mike Birbiglia 39:48
The target of t
Elyse Myers 39:51
Like, let me get this like I want to go straight. I am not against birds like so driving that home of like, no one literally thought you were anti bird. until you are trying to convince me you’re not.
Mike Birbiglia 40:02
Exactly, exactly. And also Rob is maybe the villain. Although Rob is he’s really just saying something that’s true. Yeah. Oh, that’ll be something that
Elyse Myers 40:14
I think that comedy is is you know, tragedy plus time and you’re like at least paying plus a year is Yeah. That is like, that’s a really good point of the story where you it goes from funny to like, heartfelt is that that’s a good little like, turn the corner there that moment.
Mike Birbiglia 40:34
Yeah, it’s funny like i Your obviously your podcast is funny because it’s true. Yeah. And like you and I like playing the similar sandbox or playing the same sandbox of telling you stories. And it’s like, I always tell people, you know, write, you know, write down what your sadness about or angers about in a journal. Yeah. For yourself. Like, it’s helpful to just contextualize your life as a story. And when you can see your life as a story, you can zoom out and encourage the main character to make better decisions.
Elyse Myers 41:05
Yeah, well, I mean, honestly, I attribute a lot of my memory of like, back in the day, because I have done so much journaling, I remember reading back what I wrote in that act of like writing, reading, and like internalizing, helps you understand what you’re experiencing, and then it also helps you remember it. And so yes, it’s really interesting. Like, if you are in a creative in any way, whether it is writing, or it’s art or anything, I always suggest writing things down, because it allows you to add another layer of emotion where it’s like you experience things through somebody else yourself, like you see it that way, and then another person would see in your life, that things are funny, just sometimes because they’re true is like a really, really beautiful thing. Because I think, too, as things are going really horribly in your life, like, I have learned to laugh about them, because I know they will be funny later, because I’ve made them funny now from 10 years ago, and so honestly, it’s it might be labeled as like a trauma response of just like laughing when something horrible happens, you know, that might not be healthy. But if you can do it in a healthy way, I think it’s a very good way to separate yourself from like horrible things that are happening at the moment.
Mike Birbiglia 42:09
I that’s absolutely true. Yeah. Do you have any stories you’re working on? Or do you want me to just continue and tell you one more story, tell me when we usually just do jokes. But since your storytelling, like I’ll tell you story, I love it. All right. A few years ago, Jenny and I rented a house in the country for the holidays. And it was very special. Until we turned on the heat. And then there was just wasn’t heat. Oh, no, no. And it’s Thanksgiving, call the oil company. And they said they could they could come that night between 630 and 9:30pm. With 10 gallons of oil to prime the heating system. Make sure it’s ready for one of those like super tankers of oil that drive around. And before this incident, I didn’t even know what those things did. I did I just saw them driving around. I thought maybe maybe those guys just are just driving around like and they. And they’re listening, like driving. Yeah, they just like driving, they’re listening to am talk radio. They’re making jokes on the CB radio. Maybe they’re just perpetually driving in circles using the oil in the tank.
Elyse Myers 43:13
That just a reserve gas tank.
Mike Birbiglia 43:16
So the window was 6:30 to 9:30 and a wait in the doorway. And because it’s one of those things where I’m like, I’m not knocking Mr. Window. No. And I’m like a goaltender. I’m like blocking the front doors for three hours. And no one showed up and called the company the company is called Petro. And I said, Hey, it’s 930. No one showed up. And they said, our guy said he showed up. No one answered the door. He left a little card on your door. I got him on the door. A card. I’ve been here the whole time. And I didn’t shout. But I was angry. Yeah, he could sense this. And then he replied, Happy Thanksgiving. Which felt passive aggressive.
Elyse Myers 44:04
Did they hang up?
Mike Birbiglia 44:05
Happy Thanksgiving. And it was a good tactical move. In hindsight. It forced me to say Happy Thanksgiving to you to
Elyse Myers 44:14
Like angry, like, everything’s here.
Mike Birbiglia 44:17
Yeah, happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to you too. Even though he was completely fucking me over in real time and lying to me like the pilgrims. So the fetcher guy says the technician will come over to your house that he’s after the house he’s currently at. Get a phone call at 1030. It’s the technician. And he says I’m half hour away. I say I’ll stay up all night. So the man from petrol shows up at 11:15pm gets out of the van. He says I am Pedro. And I’m looking at his truck. It says Petro and I’m exhausted like I’m like out of it. And I think there’s no way his name is Pedro. And he works for a company named Petro. I can’t possibly They call him Petro. Because he might be like, Why would you call me the name of my company? And I’d be so embarrassed. So like, come on in man. And it got me self conscious about my use of the word, man. Yeah, I was like, Pedro’s gotta be 10 years older than me. I’m using the casual man all of a sudden. So then I modified I go right his way, sir. And then I thought, What am I some kind of weird blue blooded, rich guy who calls everyone sir. So Pedro, and I work on this for a little bit, which means he works on it. I bring him D 1am. Pedro says, I don’t know what to tell you, Mike. I cannot fix this thing. I said, Okay, sir. He tried to call his company but his phone was doing an update. So I said, I’ll call them. I said, Hi, this is Mike Birbiglia. I’m here with and I could see in Pedro’s eyes that he really thought I should know his name by now. I said, The Man from your company. I’m going to put him on speaker so he can identify himself and explain the rest. So I put it on speaker. And he says, Hi, this is Pedro. Got it. Got it in an evening full of failures. At least I know his name is Pedro. From that point on, I use the name Pedro a lot. And I committed to memory by a mnemonic device, which is Pedro works for Petro. So Pedro tells me this is way over his head, and that he’s gonna send a technician in the morning, firstly, to fix it. Then he tells me to call Petra in the morning and explain that I have that I have a baby. And that this is dangerous. He knows I do not have a baby. So he knows my daughter’s like five years old. And we’ve talked about our kids. He knows we don’t know, baby. He knows my daughter’s five. We’ve talked about our kids at this point. We’ve spent a lot of time together. Yeah, I mean, Pedro. But apparently, if you want heat, you really have to raise the stakes. You have to say you have a baby. And so in the morning, I wake up, I call I go, you got to understand we got a baby. Baby might die. And you’re all you’re all going to hell. Happy Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving. Exactly. Yeah. So at 1pm Just guy Charlie comes over. And Charlie goes, I’m gonna get your heat. And there’s something about Charlie’s confidence makes me feel like he’s gonna get his heat. Yeah. So it made me want to have sex with Charlie, even though a heterosexual man happily married? He’s thought Charlie’s looking good.
Elyse Myers 47:33
You’re saving the day. Yeah, you’re saving my hypothetical baby.
Mike Birbiglia 47:37
This is a light I wrote. I like cut it out. But I wrote it for today. I wrote, Charlie brought the heat which made me want to give him the heat. Maybe it’s too much, maybe it’s too much. It might be too much. It’s something in that universe. Because because I’ve done this on stage a couple times and made me it made me want to have sex with Charlie is actually the biggest line in it right now. Yeah. Because I think there’s something relatable about when someone anyone is wildly competent. Yeah. You’ve been dealing with complete and total incompetence. Like you’re just like, Oh, I’m I mean, I’m attracted to this person physically. An hour later, Charlie fixes the heat. And I have $100 bill in my wallet and nothing else. I never use cash. It’s just a random $100. Bill. Charlie, fix the heat. I hand him $100 Bill, he goes, No, no, it’s not a tipping thing. And you never know. And then I put I take his hand. And I I put $100 bill in his hand. And I go Happy Thanksgiving. So anyway, that’s a news story. I’ve been doing that for six weeks or something.
Elyse Myers 48:46
The baby’s situation is getting worse and worse, to me is the funniest line. It makes no sense. But it it conveys the entire idea of the the whole story is the baby situation is getting worse and worse. There’s so much in that sentence. So oh, what I was gonna say to was when the part after you learn his name, I wanted you to say his name so many more time.
Mike Birbiglia 49:12
Oh, yes. Yes. Pedro, come right in. I want to talk to you about something. Yeah. But somebody else Pedro.
Elyse Myers 49:18
But again, when you’re talking to the audience about Pedro Yeah. And then Pedro told me to, like told me to say I had a baby because Pedro and I haven’t.
Mike Birbiglia 49:26
That’s nice. Right. From that point on, Pedro gets said 100,
Elyse Myers 49:29
million times like you never stopped. Yeah, anyways, that’s what I thought, you know?
Mike Birbiglia 49:34
You know, and maybe he says, we’re talking about it out loud of like, having the made me want to have sex with Charlie. I mean, it made me want to have sex with Charlie, which goes to the source of, of I think the reason I’m fixing the heat in the first place is I want my wife to want to have sex with me the way that I want to have sex with Charlie. I want to be Charlie, I want to be Charlie.
Elyse Myers 49:54
That makes sense.
Mike Birbiglia 49:58
I mean, like there’s a dual purpose happening in the story and in in real life. Certainly. It’s like, I’m always trying to impress my wife. I’m always trying to be like, awesome. And then and then with my daughter, I’m just trying. I mean, the whole thing of being a parent is by measure, they stay alive and warm. Yeah. So just like I gotta get them heat.
Elyse Myers 50:17
Well, I think honestly, that story to cap it might be funny if you I start with the idea of like, because you’re on vacation, right? Yeah. And yeah, this is a crossing a line to me. But like, there is no crossing like, vacation sex. Right? Okay, great. So you’re like, I want this to be a nice, fun experience. But you don’t have warmth. You are trying to get this fixed. Charlie finally leaves or whatever you go. And then after this whole team is Charlie, yeah, yeah. This whole situation is like, now I want to have sex with Charlie, because like, he’s fixed this problem for me, and he leaves and then you’re like, the door closes. And you’re like, where were we like, kind of? Like, this is a way too long of a setup for a very simple premise of like things that just happen normal life. Also, that could not be funny in any way.
Mike Birbiglia 51:02
That’s interesting. I think that it’s worth it experiment, actually, to do something in the universe of talking about my relationship with my wife, and I’m always trying to impress her. Yeah, one time we were on vacation boba, and there was no heat. No, yeah, I’m gonna save the day.
Elyse Myers 51:17
Yeah, more like that. We want to fix the situation. And then, like, they leave, and you’re just like, I did it.
Mike Birbiglia 51:23
I know what you do. And then we had sex, and I pretended it was Charlie. I don’t know. No, no, no. It’s yes anding and wherever it goes, it goes. No, I think I love that. I think yeah, there’s a lot. Well, then a lot of the stuff I’m talking about on stage lately in the working it out shows has been about marriage and domesticity. And I’m trying to figure out if I wonder if you deal with us with with your videos, because I think you’ve probably a really young audience actually is like you, you’re probably have a lot of fans who aren’t married and don’t maybe aren’t in a relationship and relate to what you’re doing. It’s like, what why do you think they relate to you talking about being married.
Elyse Myers 52:06
You’d be shocked. The widest demographic I have is, women that are like 35, to 45 Marry are in relationships. So I find it harder actually, to create content that people relate to when I am talking about like, younger things, which is really like everyone can relate to a funny story from your childhood. So you don’t have to be that age to relate to that. But like, a lot of the stuff on it. Like I don’t talk about being a mom a lot, but when I do, it is like, all the comments are like, Oh my god, me too. And like, yeah, looking for that. And so, to me, it’s like, that’s where I see the most. And, like, I don’t expect that kind of relatability. Because I just forget that people connect to me that are not my age, it’s really interesting.
Mike Birbiglia 52:54
So the final thing we do is called working it out for a cause. And it’s any organization that you think does a good job, and we contribute to them, and then we link to them in the show notes.
Elyse Myers 53:01
Yes, National Birth equality collaborative. So the United States is like the only industrialized like country that the maternal mortality rate is like increasing all of the time, we have like not figured it out. And especially for like, marginalized communities like black pregnant people do not get the care that they need. Yeah. And it’s just wild to me. And once I became pregnant, I just realized how scary it is that you just rely on the people around you. And like, you just have to trust people that you know nothing about and your life is just like, in someone else’s hands. So this organization is basically like really focuses on care for people in like just marginalized communities so that they get the care that they need when they’re pregnant after birth, like the baby’s like before birth and after, like all of it, it’s just a complete situation.
Mike Birbiglia 53:48
I’m gonna contribute to them. We’re gonna link to in the show notes, encourage people to contribute as well. Yeah. Elise is such a joy. And then our next our next goal is we gotta get you on stage telling stories. Yeah. to a group of strangers. Yes. Because it’s going to bring joy to the world.
Elyse Myers 55:04
We’re going to do it. Yeah, I’m going to shake on that we’re gonna shake on this.