The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Comedy on the Quad

Declan Sullivan | Thursday, September 2, 2010

Over the past few years, the quality of comedians at the annual “Comedy on the Quad,” taking place this Saturday, has constantly increased. Two years ago, it was a pre-“Community” Joel McHale; last year, it was Maria Bamford and Judah Friedlander of “30 Rock” fame. The event has continued it’s improvement this year, as 2010 boasts perhaps the best line up yet: Michael Ian Black and Mike Birbiglia.

Michael Ian Black is the more recognizable of the two. He started his career in the early 90’s on the underappreciated MTV sketch show — yes, MTV used to have content other than reality TV — The State. He was also one of the stars of two Comedy Central shows: Stella and Michael & Michael Have Issues, and he has contributed to the Adult Swim shows Tom Goes to the Mayor, Tim & Eric, Awesome Show and Robot Chicken.

The gig that he is most well known for, however, is as the sarcastic, snarky commentator on VH1’s Best of… series.  Even if you’ve never knowingly watched the show, if you’ve ever had your TV set to VH1, you’ve seen his face.

He’s also been featured on numerous Sierra Mist TV spots. Black is known for a sarcastic, off-brand style of comedy, and while he is not generally known for his stand up, his performance should not be missed nonetheless.

Mike Birbiglia, on the other hand, is not as well known among television audiences, but fans of stand-up comedy have known his name for a while.

NPR listeners will recognize Birbiglia’s name from his numerous contributions to This American Life, as his comedy style is usually in a more narrative, story-driven format, as opposed to a string of one-liners.

It may not be fair to call Birbiglia an up-and-comer at this point. He’s never had the mainstream success of Mitch Hedberg, Jim Gaffigan or Dane Cook — ugh — or the movie and television career of Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler or Will Ferrell, but Birbiglia has never attempted to branch out to that kind of success. As a stand-up comedian and a storyteller, he could easily beat or hold his own against any of them, even in their primes.

His album, My Secret Public Journal Live, has been named one of the best comedy albums of the decade by the Onion AV Club, he has had three Comedy Central specials and his off-Broadway show Sleepwalk With Me has gotten rave reviews from publications like Variety and The New Yorker. Whatever you do, do not miss his set: it promises to be amazing.

“Comedy on the Quad” will take place on Friday at 10 p.m. Make sure to come early — or just stick around after the Dillon Pep Rally — as the event has grown more and more popular with each passing year. Michael Ian Black is top notch and a famous face, and the chance to see Mike Birbiglia should not be missed, as he is one of the greatest stand-up acts around. “Comedy on the Quad” has become a can’t-miss event, so don’t.