Photo: Craig Schwartz.

The Old Man and the Pool

Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles

Written by:
Karen Weinstein
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So, is “The Old Man and The Pool” theater or is It stand up? Does it matter? ‘The Old Man” is fully entertaining. It is not scatological; audience members are not put to shame, and it is not really about an old man, although one pops in a couple of times. Through a neurotic but hilarious examination of his own medical history and the local YMCA pool, Mike Birbiglia confronts his real terror. It is a mid-life crisis. At 43, he has barely hit the benchmark, but his medical chart is weighted down with real diagnoses. Still we laugh. Birbiglia is a natural story teller. If his name is familiar you have probably heard him on NPR. He is a frequent contributor to “This American Life” and “The Moth.” On stage his autobiographical confrontation with getting older feels like a romp despite the serious undercurrent,

Summer is typically a time for light fare and despite serious undertones Birbiglia fits the bill. Further analysis might only detract from the enjoyment. Opening nights are generally packed with friends and family making for an exaggerated level of audience response. Not so with “The Old Man and The Pool.” The laughter was genuine and fueled his performance. I am not a big fan of solo performances or standup comics. Birbiglia, however, got my attention and made me a fan. Call it standup, call it theater, “The Old Man and The Pool” is a good way to spend a summer evening.
Karen Weinstein

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