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Improve How You Speak Using a Broadway Comedian’s Secret Practice

Mike Birbiglia.

If you know his work, you’re thinking,

“Ohhhh. YESSSS.”

If you don’t yet know his work,

you’re in for a treat (YouTube, Netflix or Live).

Mike is an absolutely brilliant storyteller and comedian,

and also one of the nicest people I know.

Over the years, I’ve gotten a glimpse

into a sliver of Mike’s process,

and his work ethic is unparalleled.

One valuable insight for all of us:

Mike records his shows

and then listens back to them,

making notes about what he wants

to keep, change or improve.

Whatever your role or profession,

when was the last time

you recorded yourself and listened back?

While it’s illegal to record a call

without the consent of the other party/parties,

you can certainly record

your side of a phone conversation

or ask permission before your

next meeting, event, seminar or workshop.

Notice how often you say “totally” . . .

“got it” or even, “One final thought.”

Maybe you have a tendency to rush,

repeat yourself, or raise your voice.

YES, it’s uncomfortable (and sometimes painful)

to listen back to ourselves,

but it’s worse to continue unaware.

When I was a student at Stanford, a fantastic professor

had us record ourselves in conversation

and then transcribe it word for word.

I was shocked by how often

I changed a thought mid-sentence

and literally interrupted myself.

I was shocked by how often I said, “like.”

(Granted I was 21, but nonetheless, it wasn’t good.)

So summon your strength…

Risk Forward & Listen On,


P.S. Guide to the pix – clockwise.

  1. In Oct, after Mike’s performance of The Old Man & The Pool: (left to right) the brilliant Seth Barrish, who developed and directed the show with Mike, Mike, Frank (my husband), me.
  2. This past Thurs 12/1. We went again as the show is that good.
  3. Opening night of The New One off-Broadway in 2018, before the B’way run.
  4. Mike working on The New One, his last solo play. I took this photo earlier in 2018 during the Performing Arts Collective (aka: The PAC) which I hosted for artists developing work. Here, Mike is holding a 3-ring binder in which he would make notes for script improvements.
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