The Old Man and the Pool Reviews
The New York Times- Highly Recommended
"...Mike Birbiglia knows what he’s doing: At this point, his act is baked to golden perfection. Exploring new territories or branching out into unexpected formal terrain is not in the cards for this comedian. His new solo show, “Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & the Pool,” directed by his regular collaborator Seth Barrish, is built along the same lines as his previous outings."
New York Theater- Recommended
"...When the audience laughs, Birbiglia expresses surprise and disappointment: A man died! We need to have a moment of silence for him. His effort to make the audience stop laughing and observe a moment of silence goes on for a considerable length of time. Some might experience this as growing hilarity; some might find it too long. But it certainly demonstrates, if we needed any more proof, that at a Birbiglia show, it’s hard to stop laughing."
"...Standing beneath a giant sheet of chlorine-green graph paper that, depending on the lighting, looks like a huge wave or a pool full of water, Birbiglia jokes that he doesn’t have a swimmer’s body. More of a drowner’s body. Practically a river corpse body. But here he is, still alive, a little bit older, a little bit wiser and every bit as endearing as he was during the last show, advising us — in Warren Zevon’s words — to “enjoy every sandwich.” Funny thing is, you never want him to shut up."
amNY- Highly Recommended
"...Birbiglia (who has toured extensively, maintained an active social media presence, and appeared in recurring roles on TV hits such as “Orange is the New Black” and “Billions”) has an impressively large, diverse and young fan-base, which filled the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center to capacity at my performance."
Time Out New York- Recommended
"...Like all of Birbiglia’s joints, The Old Man & the Pool is carefully structured: The chatty sidetracks always loop back to the central path. Birbiglia is an expert at controlling the pace and energy of the evening, and the thrust stage of Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont Theater helps him maintain an appealing closeness to the crowd. Only once, at the performance I attended, did he seem to lose control over the proceedings: when one woman in the audience, despite his entreaties, literally could not stop herself from laughing. As problems go, that’s a nice one for a comedian to have."
Deadline- Highly Recommended
"...Birbiglia, casting his glare and castigations from one laughing audience member to another, essentially conducts the growing laughter into a crescendo, like a choirmaster conducts his choir, then tops it all with a punchline of his own. This is a man in full control, perhaps not of his body or his health or any of the bad stuff that life brings our way, but of how he, and perhaps his audience, can cope with it all. “Enjoy every sandwich,” he quotes the late Warren Zevon at one point, and The Old Man & the Pool is one helluva sandwich."
TheaterMania- Highly Recommended
"...Mike Birbiglia's stage shows have always explored death in one way or another. In Thank God for Jokes, it was the death of comedy; in The New One, it was the way a marriage changes when a child is born. More literally, there's Sleepwalk With Me, which recounted his real-life experience jumping out of a second-story glass window, and My Girlfriend's Boyfriend, which recounts his getting T-boned by a drunk driver. After all that, The Old Man and the Pool, now running on Broadway at the Vivian Beaumont Theater after a cross-country tour, is Birbiglia's most literal consideration of mortality yet. And it happens to be the best show he's ever written."
Broadway Blog- Highly Recommended
"...The Old Man traces Birbiglia's reflections on aging, family generations, and how we express love - all of which could seem trite. They never are: Birbiglia is an undeniably skilled orator with impeccable comedic timing and a pristine understanding of narrative structure. Jokes are introduced, rehashed, and sneak in once again to delightful and satisfying effect."
Stage Buddy- Highly Recommended
"...Maybe it’s in Birbiglia’s handling of normally off-limit subjects. Maybe it’s just his genial personality and his sharing. Yet when my kvetchy friend tells me all about her aches and pains and illness, I don’t laugh. I just want to get off the phone. When Mike talks, I want to listen longer. The show is skillfully crafted with ideas and throw away lines at the beginning that he neatly ties up at the end."
StageZine- Highly Recommended
"...When a lot people have lost their everyday humor and comedy has become harder to do, when a standup comedy routine could cancel a comic in a heartbeat, somehow—as he did in his last outing on Broadway, The New One in 2018, about his neurosis and the birth of his baby girl—Mike Birbiglia scores and gets big laughs by joking about things to which most of us can relate, including the not-always-funny topic of midlife emotional and physical health. In Mike Birbiglia: The Old Man & The Pool, Mr. Birbiglia has managed to hit another home run."
Daily Beast- Recommended
"...Birbiglia is a master of comic excruciation, delivered with utmost geniality. When audience members turn up late, he delivers gentle admonishment and a précis of what they have missed. He occasionally sits on his only prop, an upright stool. He throws himself energetically at the curving background at one point. The one very visible problem with the show is that Birbiglia is very handsome, and has a more-than-good body. But the specter of illness and mortality has been present for him for so long, Birbiglia eventually elects to do what he can to live healthily."
Broadway News- Recommended
"...Cancer, diabetes and heart disease don’t have straightforward cures, but Birbiglia abides by the adage “laughter is the best medicine.” In generously detailing the less-than-ideal fragments of his life, he reveals the many reasons we should keep relishing ours. Apparently, Birbiglia is now a regular at the pool. He seeks new ways to express more love and make Oona laugh. He has a new lease on life and, dare I say, it’s going swimmingly."
Theatrely- Somewhat Recommended
"...That uproarious bit is a testament to Birbiglia’s genius for timing, deft hand with crowd work and his structural skill. It is also not really tied to this show at all. So when Birbiglia then concludes more soberly and, in a final flourish, attempts a sharper statement on mortality to close things out, it simply doesn’t land."
New York Stage Review- Recommended
"...The author seems to have been influenced, at least titularly, by Ernest Hemingway’s Pulitzer-winning allegorical rumination The Old Man and the Sea. Birbiglia’s play, on the other hand, is an allegorical rumination for our times. While it’s safe to predict The Old Man & the Pool will not cop the Pulitzer, it is way funnier than Hemingway."