Known for his work as a stand-up comedian, Mike Birbiglia is showing an immense talent behind the camera with his second feature film, Don’t Think Twice.
A few years ago, I found myself going to an improv performance over at the Magnet Theatre. I had never gone to an improv performance before but so many people that I watch and admire got their start in improv so I was excited nonetheless. What I saw that night was a magnificent performance with a group of people who clearly were so connected and so in sync with one another that it was surprising that they were all performing in a theater and not all that well known. But watching Mike Birbiglia’s second feature film, Don’t Think Twice, it shows the reality that a performer lives through everyday, and it’s not always sunshine and laughter.
Following an improv troupe titled The Commune featuring Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), Miles (Birbiglia), Bill (Chris Gethard), Allison (Kate Micucci), and Lindsay (Tami Sagher), these group of people have been performing together for a long time. Jack and Samantha are a couple who live together and who clearly are the best of the group. Miles is the teacher who brought so many beginners up to his level and beyond, getting them auditions and starring roles on Weekend Live (basically Saturday Night Live). Bill is the leader of the troupe, and while he’s not the best improv performer, he’s the glue that keeps the group together. Allison never quite feels like she’s there for performing, but more so because she loves and cares for these people. And Lindsay is primarily there because she’s rich and doesn’t have to actually do anything with her life.
For one day a week, these six performers put on a show that leaves audiences with their sides aching. But for the other days of the week? We’re shown just how difficult it can be for an aspiring performer. Each of them working at dull, mundane jobs just trying to get by, while others are working on what they truly love but are too scared to fully commit to. Don’t Think Twice is, no doubt, a funny movie and may end up being one of the year’s funniest comedies, but it also shows just how much these people struggle just so they can continue doing what they love.
For one lucky night though, a couple of execs from Weekend Live attend a show to scout some new talent for their upcoming season. As expected, this is a huge deal for the troupe and they all know they have to bring their A game, even if that means showing up other members of the performance. At the end of the night, it’s discovered that two of the members of the troupe have been scheduled for auditions for Weekend Live and the dynamic of the group begins to shift for the worst.
Don’t Think Twice isn’t a film that’s full of a star power, but instead has several actors and actresses who we’ve all seen before and can play the role they’re given. Key and Jacobs are given a chance to truly shine in roles that aren’t so common for these two underappreciated talents. Everyone knows Key from the sketch show Key & Peele and Jacobs from the comedy Community; they both are true performs and own the screen. But with Don’t Think Twice, Birbiglia allows them to give their all and they don’t hold back.
What makes Don’t Think Twice such a unique experience? I can’t quite put my hand on it, but it all comes down to the mind of Birbiglia. Directing, writing, and starring in the film, it’s evident that there’s a personal touch to the film that may not be there if it had been in the hands of someone else. For only directing his second film, Birbiglia is able to hit the dramatic and comedic beats that most seasoned directors struggle with, and the best part is he doesn’t hold back. He lets his perfectly assembled cast play their parts and what we’re given as an audience is a touching, funny look into the lives of these six friends.
Don’t Think Twice is written & directed by Mike Birbiglia and stars Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Miccuci, Chris Gethard, and Tami Sagher. Don’t Think Twice will be given a wide release this Summer along with a tour of the movie.