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Meet Jen Stein — Mike Birbiglia's Wife And Inspiration For Netflix Special 'The New One'

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Who Is Mike Birbiglia's Wife? New Details On Jen Stein And His New Netflix Comedy Special

Have you caught The New One on Netflix yet? It's the streaming service's latest offering.

Comedian Mike Birbiglia offers his hilarious take on his reluctant journey towards fatherhood. The comedy special is very autobiographical in nature for the Orange is the New Black actor, and delves into his life and his marriage.

But who is Mike Birbiglia's wife, Jen Stein?

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Birbiglia has been married to poet Jen Stein — she goes by the pen name J. Hope Stein — since 2007. They have one daughter, Oona, born in May 2015. In The New One, Birbiglia talks about the fact that he really didn't want to be a father.

He sleepwalks — we'll get into that later — which has caused him bodily injury in the past and could be harmful to his child. He's a cancer survivor. But his wife wore him down over time. His urologist also contributed to Stein's "should-I-shouldn't-I-have-kids" cause when he said, "No man wants to have kids. Our wives want us to, we all go along with it. It’s the best thing that will ever happen to you. It is the most joy you will ever experience.”

Let's take a look at everything we know about Mike Birbiglia, his wife and their relationship. 

1. She's from New York.

Stein was raised in New York City, the daughter of a psychoanalyst with a private practice in Manhattan and a music publisher who represented U2 and REM. Her parents divorced when she was two. 

2. She's a poet.

Stein writes poetry under the pen name J. Hope Stein. However, until pretty recently, she kept this fact a secret. On Brenda O'Meara's podcast, she said that aside from her husband and a few poet friends, she didn't tell anyone what name she wrote under or when any of her poems were published.

She said she wanted to "keep it to herself and not burden anyone with it." She also said, “I just felt like I needed space, I created a lot of space for myself. I would just hide my manuscripts around the house. I would just make sure everything is always hidden.”

3. She's written five books of poetry.

Stein has written five books of poetry: Talking Doll, Mary, Corner Office, Occasionally, I Remove Your Brain Through Your Nose and Little Astronaut. Birbiglia even shared a poem from Little Astronaut on his Instagram

Little Astronaut is primarily about motherhood. According to her bio, Stein also edits the website e.e. cattings.com, taking the form of a cat poet. (Yes, like e.e cummings, but feline.) The site is amusingly described as, "a domestic short-haired cat poet who sleeps 12-16 hours a day. he writes on a typewriter and always writes in lowercase, because he can’t manage to hold the shift button with his paw and type at the same time."


A post shared by Mike Birbiglia (@birbigs) on Nov 27, 2019 at 8:24am PST

4. They've been married since 2007.

Stein, who is Jewish, and Birbiglia, who is Catholic, have been married since 2007. In a 2011 interview, Birbiglia said, “...our rule of thumb is everything we do, we do because we really enjoy it and because we feel comfortable. That’s how we felt about our wedding... Our families would have liked it if we’d had a fancy wedding. But we got married at City Hall.”

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5. Actor/comedian Nathan Lane was a witness at their wedding.

When Stein and Birbiglia went to City Hall to get married, it just so happens that by chance Nathan Lane, legendary actor and Broadway star, was there and he ended up being the witness to their marriage!

Birbiglia said, "It's very exciting for people at City Hall when Nathan shows up. He's kind of like the mayor of New York. So we went into this private room and yeah, we got married."

6. She tucks him into bed at night — literally — because he's a sleepwalker.

One of the things Stein has to deal with is the fact that her husband has rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder, which means he sleepwalks.

In his special, Birbiglia talks about how his wife has to zip him up in a sleeping bag-like contraption, complete with hand mitts, to ensure that he doesn't accidentally harm himself or her while asleep. And there's good reason for the full body sleep suit: When he was on tour in Walla Walla, Washington he ran out his hotel room's second-story window while sleepwalking, and had to get 33 stitches in his leg. That experience led to his 2010 book, Sleepwalk With Me. 

7. He really didn't want to have kids... but she changed his mind.

When Birbiglia and Stein got married, according to Birbiglia in his special, he made it clear he never wanted to have kids because he was sure it would ruin his life. In fact, he goes over seven concrete different reasons why he never wanted them. 

But his wife eventually convinced him to have a baby, and it turns out his fears were right, which turned into the basis for the entire comedy special. But beyond his comedy special, isn't this also life? There's an old saying that if you wait until you're ready to have kids, you never will.

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Amy Lamare is a Los Angeles based writer covering entertainment, pop culture, beauty, fashion, fitness, technology, and the intersection of technology, business, and philanthropy. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook.