Front Row at the Movies
Bares Its Soul in
“Don’t Think Twice”
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Mike Birbiglia is a stand-up comedian who broke into films with “Sleepwalk With Me,” a funny story about his anxiety disorder that manifested itself with rapid eye movements and sleepwalking.
Now Birbiglia gets anxious again: His new film “Don’t Think Twice” explores the world of improv comics dealing with success … or lack thereof.
The storyline centers on a group of Brooklyn comedians who call themselves The Commune. Birbiglia plays the group’s teacher, Miles. He watches as, one by one, his students surpass him, scoring gigs with TV shows like Weekend Live (think: Saturday Night Live).
We get to know the whole gang -- Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) and Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), Lindsay (Tami Sagher), Bill (Chris Gethard), and Allison (Kate Micucci). They’re all a bundles of neuroses and anxieties and secret jealousies.
“Don’t Think Twice” is putting on its act this week at the Tropic Cinema.
Not only does the film introduce us to these would-be comedians, but also it instructs us in the art of improvisation. Birbiglia explains the three rules, the most important being “Yes, and…” This is the actor going along with anything thrown at him or her in order to keep the skit going.
The second rule is, it’s not about you; it’s about the group.
And the third says, don’t think. Don’t let your head hold you back; improv is about impulse. In other words, don’t think twice.
Being that the film is about improvisation, much of the acting didn’t rely on Birbiglia’s script. Nonetheless, noted improv coach Liz Allen says, “Birbiglia has captured the supportive, miserable, ambitious, lost, funny, lovable but sometimes irritating people that we are.”
Will you like “Don’t Think Twice”? Absolutely, if you take a lesson from Birbiglia and just go with the flow.