Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Interview with Mike Birbigilia

For the past 2 weeks I have been daydreaming of what it would be like to have someone famous tweet on your behalf. Imagine if all of Brad Bird's dedicated flock were directed to my Kickstarter page. With a single button press floods of donations and flattering comments would be showered upon me. Ah the power of celebrity twitter - so close and yet so far. The constant gnawing anxiety that has been with me ever since I launched my Kickstarter campaign would abate I would be able to return to my comfy existence of drawing, drawing and more drawing. While noodling around yesterday and trying to think of something pithy to tweet to Brad Bird I stumbled upon Mike Birbigilia's twitter account. I will preface the next statement by saying I am a fan of Mike Birbigilia but do not follow him as I didn't see how a comedian could be of any help to the promotion of my film. My interest in social media at this point is 100% financially based. BUT Mike Birbigilia has over 300,000 followers.  This puts Brad Bird's numbers into perspective. I scanned Mike Birbigilia latest tweets to see if I could come up with a witty retort but nothing came to mind and knowing that it was futile, I forged on with the usual drawing, dinner, TV and sleep. However just when I thought I had put my superficial concerns with social media status on the back burner my subconscious kicked in.

I found myself wandering around the twitterverse which was more or less New York city in the late 70's, my 'campaign' in tow. I met Cher in a open loft where she kindly agreed to tweet on my behalf and went into her control centre which was one part command deck of the USS Enterprise and one part Missy Elliot video. Cher worked her magic and returned my 'campaign' to me which was contained in an important looking briefcase-like strong box. I thanked her and continued on my aimless meandering. As I was walking down a vast empty street I noticed an office with floor to ceiling windows. What an incredible coincidence. This was Mike Birbiglia's headquarters, where all things Birbiglia go down. I stood outside. I should go in, no, bad idea nothing will come of it and it will just be embarrassing. Yes, no, yes, no finally the voice of positivity wins - arguing that I need to take risks in order to reap rewards. To my amazement my highschool friend Helen DuToit is in the main office looking very successful in a pair of hot reading glasses and she (as it turns out) is Mike Birbiglia's right hand gal. At the moment I enter Brigilia HQ, Helen is reading scripts. Because of his overwhelming fame and incredible twitter following, Mike Birbigilia gets tons of scripts each week from eager potential collaborators. I go over to Helen and we have a quick girlie reconnect and she agrees to review the campaign and pass it on to Mike. Overjoyed by my luck and seeing Helen's presence as some kind of sign, I feel pretty damn cocky walking into Mike B's expansive and expensive board room. Helen opens up the strong box and presses play - horror, instead of my promo a hundred little randomly edited You Tube clips play a garbled muck. What the hell? Cher has recut my promo video! That's what all that showy command deck crap was about. Helen looks up at me with a look of withering disdain. "Umm just fast forward it should be there," I blurt out. She scrubs the video back and forth for a few minutes while I sit by panicked looking at the screen in disbelief. "I don't know how this happened," I say with a thin layer of nervous condensation blooming on my face. Helen gives it another nano second then leaves the room with a frosty silence and returns to the pile of scripts waiting for her on the big important table next door. Just at that point the man himself enters. "Hey, Helen tells me you have a campaign for a short film," Mike Birbigilia says to me. "Yes," I say tentatively the facial condensation has now turned into a full-on drippy sweat. To make matters worse the white trash hicks from Orange is the New Black who somehow have become associated with me have started to fill out forms demanding lattes and hot drinks. "Can you believe these guys?" I mime to Mike, mortified that I should have brought this posse into his sacred domain. 

I make my excuses about a screw up at the beginning of the video as he pushes play and starts watching. Mike Birbiglia is across the table from me his eyes are on the screen. Unable to see the video myself, I focus on his expression as he watches. Then a horrible thing happens. He seems unfazed by the garbage at the front end of the video but it's his reaction once the actual promo starts playing that gets me. He is totally and utterly bored by what he is watching. I can hear the audio and now with his expression as my barometer everything I hear sounds painfully slow and and dull. I have blown it. Totally. Even with an 'in' I failed to deliver. Mike Birbigilia is so disinterested he pushes the stop button before the video has finished. He looks up at me. We are both on the same page in that moment. I am the first to speak, "You know the sad thing is is I am a big fan of yours - I mean I really like your stuff. I was sure this would work." The lights in the office have dimmed now everyone else has gone. He just looks at me quietly as we both grab our coats to leave. Outside, we are now at the Maida Vale underground station in London. He looks at me and says, "Do you want to go for a drink at the Stone Pony?" I pause for a second. Mike Birbiglia has just asked me to go for a drink. My daughter who has suddenly been transported into the scene and I both look at each other -we can barely contain our excitement. We are going to a bar with Mike Birbiglia. I look back at him acting non-chalant, "Sure that sounds great."  Its then that I notice he is wearing a big soft corduroy coat that is well worn and looks totally cozy. I touch his sleeve, it reminds me of the old school one that Louis CK wears. But this is much softer it feels like it is filled with down. No tweets but a real live sure-to-be-entertaining bar conversation on the horizon. What could be better than that?

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