Don’t come into Don’t Think Twice expecting a barrel of laughs – this isn’t that kinda rodeo. Nor is this really a conversation about comedy, as beyond a documentary-style opening and a slew of Del Close quotes, Don’t Think Twice largely avoids getting too far into the nuts and bolts of improv. Instead, Mike Birbiglia uses this snapshot of the improv scene to get into the nitty gritty of how it feels to fall out of faith in your dreams.
Focusing on the characters and not the world keeps Don’t Think Twice from feeling too niche – even if you don’t know you’re ‘Yes And’ from your ‘No But’, the problems of these people are empathetic and almost harrowingly relatable. As with all good improv, DTT runs nicely as an ensemble piece, avoiding prioritising any character over all the others – although Chris Gethard snags most of the laugh-out-loud moments. While Don’t Think Twice might not be as hilarious as you’d expect from this cast, it’s great to see them flex their muscles with more dramatic material.
Mike Birbiglia takes a bit of a backseat within Don’t Think Twice– saving his clear talent for scriptwriting/directorial duties – leaving responsibility for the film’s emotional core to Gillian Jacobs, which she handles with aplomb. Her arc over the film is heartbreaking and performed with understated gusto. The rest of the cast are also right at home with this sharp and somber script, likely because they aren’t strangers to these issues with chasing fame.
Don’t Think Twice is clearly a passion project for those involved – most of whom have a prior history with improv. Although this means it’s a real shame when the film cuts away from the actual comedy performances, Birbiglia’s script makes the time spent offstage as hilarious and personal as that onstage.
CAST: Mike Birbiglia, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher
DIRECTOR: Mike Birbiglia
WRITER: Mike Birbiglia
SYNOPSIS: Jack (Keegan Michael Key) & his girlfriend Samantha (Gillian Jacobs) are a perfect couple – who are also teammates on a popular improv group that perform at a struggling comedy spot in NYC. Together, the team has a family-like bond, but individually they have their personal dreams of being on the weekly television show “This Weekend Live”.