Mike Birbiglia's set in Davis was pretty good, actually

Mike Birbiglia’s opening lines rang too true. He said Davis was “actually pretty nice,” in that lightly surprised, politely nodding way Davisites know so well.

He backtracked, because when Birbiglia would show people his 100-stop tour schedule for Thank God for Jokes they'd say, “Oh. You're going to Davis. Oh. It's actually pretty nice.”

And the comedian said the same thing happens to him all the time: “Oh. You're actually pretty funny,” he'd hear.

“I sympathize with you, Davis,” he told the packed Mondavi Center on December 10. “We're diamonds in the rough.

With the adoring audience, Birbiglia didn't need to build any trust. But it was a pretty nice touch.

The rest of his show tackled the subject of jokes—inside jokes, why we tell jokes, the importance of context for jokes, the inevitability of offensive jokes.

Though more scattered than his famed shows My Girlfriend's Boyfriend and Sleepwalk with Me, Birbiglia maintained his style of lengthy, personal storytelling mixed with physical comedy. The road map was clear, studded with graceful callbacks to older moments throughout.

It was also more standup-y than usual, with crowd work included. After telling a hilarious tale of getting arrested as a naive 20-something, he asked two audience members about their own arrests. One was a DUI. The other was for “inciting people to riot,” while making kamikazes at a party. How very college of them.

Birbiglia gave some backstory on one of his most famous moments—hosting the 2012 Gotham Awards, wherein he joked about director David O. Russell's infamous, F-bomb-filled tirade with Russell just a few feet away. It sounded brutal. Russell threatened to leave the building.

But Birbiglia had a serious point: He knew it was dangerous and considered the ramifications well in advance, calling trusted advisers and all.

“I always try to weigh the pros and cons of telling a joke, because someone is always going to get stunned,” he said.

The received advice? If a joke is that funny, you have to tell it.

And really, Birbiglia didn't shy away from any subject all night. He told some requisite and appreciated cat jokes. He jabbed Bill Cosby. His yoga discussion received howls (“Yoga is trying not to fart while stretching”) as did his story about telling Jesus jokes at a Christian college (“Jesus died so I could tell these jokes”).

One bit that innocently started with eating a sandwich on an airplane somehow became a joke about nuts—both the phallic-related and allergy-giving kinds. And about how that very story has actually received blowback from people with nut allergies.

Anything can be offensive,” he said. “People are sensitive to new things all the time.”

Some fans can laugh at themselves. He cited a 15-year-old who, after a recent show in San Francisco, asked Birbiglia to sign his EpiPen.

“So I wanted to dedicate this show to him,” Birbiglia paused. “He's dead.”

“I'm joking.”