The latest from writer/director/actor Mike Birbiglia with all-star comic cast.
Mike Birbiglia’s first feature film, Sleepwalk with Me, was billed as a comedy, but many critics view it as having been more of a drama. His latest project, Don’t Think Twice, which premiered in New York earlier this week, is being seen in the same way. The film is really a drama that happens to be about some extremely funny people. The laughs and the tears are served up in equal measure as the film tells the story of a struggling improv group in which some members turn out to be slightly more successful solo acts than others.
The six comic stars of the film are Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Birbiglia himself, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher, and Chris Gethard. The film was written and directed by Birbiglia and was produced by Ira Glass, Miranda Bailey, and Amanda Marshall.
We caught up with Bailey, Micucci, Sagher, and Gethard on the red carpet to give us some inside scoop.
How did you first get involved with this project?
Miranda Bailey: I saw Sleepwalk with Me at Sundance several years ago and after I saw it I met with Mike and I told him I wanted to make his next movie. And then I proceeded to harass him for the next two years and call him and just check in and be like ‘when am I making your movie?’ And then right when I was in pre-production on Swiss Army Man, he called and said ‘remember that movie you want to make? I’ve got the script and I’m ready to go and we need to shoot it in four months’. So I had to just kind of make it happen because I pursued him for two years and he’s the best and I wasn’t going to pass up that opportunity.
So Ira Glass is one of the other producers. What was it like to work with him?
Bailey: Yeah, and Amanda Marshall as well! Ira’s awesome, he was really helpful when it came to us figuring out what the story was in the edit room. Working with Mike very directly in terms of sculpting that, he’s amazing. And obviously he’s a highly intelligent and talented guy.
Talk to me about your character and how you relate to her.
Kate Micucci: Funny you should ask! My character Allison, she’s a cartoonist in the movie, and when Mike saw my cartoons online, originally my character was going to be a writer, but he thought ‘why don’t we make her a cartoonist?’ And it really made a lot of sense and it was really exciting to have my art be a part of the movie. I relate to her in that way because I think it’s really nice when you’re pursuing one art to have another that’s sort of one you can control. Because you can’t control what jobs are going to happen always, but you can control how many cartoons you make in a day.
Do you have a time of day that you like to do cartooning?
Micucci: Sometimes I like to do it when I’m super, super, super tired because that’s when I make the weirdest ones.
Do you have subject matter that pops up a lot?
Micucci: They’re always kind of nondescript people, but I will say that the subject of love creeps up a lot in my cartoons. And I didn’t even realize that for a long time so it was kind of crazy that that’s what happened, but yeah.
I know you love documentaries, so do you have a particular favorite one?
Micucci: Dogtown and Z-Boys is one of my very favorite documentaries. I think it’s from the year 2000 or 2001, but it’s about the Venice skate scene.
What is your character in the film like and how do you relate to him?
Chris Gethard: My character’s name is Bill, he’s an improviser, he’s in this group where there are some people who maybe like are little bit more naturals at it than he is, he has to work pretty hard for it. And I tell you, I relate to that character immensely. I’ve felt that way my whole time in comedy, I still feel that way. And it’s interesting because there’s these six members of this group and everyone’s dealing with each other’s success, but one of the things I liked about my character was he kind of deals with some real life trouble that allows him to maybe step away from the trials and tribulations of the improv group a little bit. So it’s kind of this cool thing to be this character who’s dealing with real life and can maybe have a little bit of a different perspective on it than some of the other characters. I very much know the feeling of what it’s like to be in an improv group stressing out about whether you’re ever going to get a job or not. So it was true to life.
So do you think that you’re not a naturally funny guy then?
Gethard: I’m not the funniest. I’ve never been the funniest guy. I started at UCB in the year 2000 when I was 20 years old, and when I was 21 I was on an improv team with Jack McBrayer and Rob Corddry. I’m not as funny as those guys. I’ve done shows with Horatio Sanz and Bobby Moynihan and Zach Woods and Ellie Kemper. I’ve never been the funniest guys in the room. I’ve always been one of the hardest working guys in the room and I’ve always been pretty funny and I can help make a show better by being smart about it, but I am very, very used to not being the funniest one for sure.
Do you have any projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?
Gethard: Well I’m always working on “The Chris Gethard Show” which is my very weird talk show that I do, we’re waiting to see if we get a season 3. I’m really excited, I’m going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with this one-man show I’ve been doing. It’s like a comedy show all about different times I’ve tried to kill myself. So that’s really funny. It’s really a funny show despite the fact that it’s about dark stuff and I’m excited to go to Scotland and see what they think about it.
Talk to me about your character and how the two of you relate.
Tami Sagher: Well my character’s Lindsay and she’s a rich girl who still lives with her parents who’ve supported her whole life, but don’t approve of it, which is not like my life at all. She also has probably a marijuana problem, which I definitely did, so I definitely connected on that. She finds her identity through this group of people. So when things sort of start to turn it makes her have to realize ‘Oh, I gotta figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life’.
Have you had a moment like that?
Sagher: Oh I’ve had, like, twenty moments like that. I had a moment like that last week where it’s like ‘alright, take a step back’. It’s a lot of taking a step back.
If you keep backing up, will you eventually back into a wall?
Sagher: Well, I’ve definitely backed into a corner a lot of times. There is a time when you’re like ‘I’m not being introspective, I’m just suffering from crippling anxiety’.
Do you have a favorite moment in the film?
Sagher: There’s a moment where we’re in a bar with someone and it’s sort of like a cameo and it was a lot of fun to film, so it’s not a good one because I can’t say who it is. Just watch!
Following the screening, guests made their way over to Hill & Dale for a pizza party with SVEDKA specialty cocktails and Ruffino Prosecco. For dessert the venue provided delicious mini cupcakes and truffles.
It Opens in NY July 22nd, LA/Chicago July 29th and Nationwide in August.
Run Time: 92 Minutes
Photo: Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix