Mike Birbiglia Gillian Jacobs Keegan-Michael Key Kate Micucci Tami Sagher Chris Gothard Katie Rediger
The Commune is an improv comedy troupe in New York City, with member aspirations to make it big by being chosen to write or perform on the popular television show, Weekend Live. It’s a close-knit group of people, some of whom have been together for a long time, and they see themselves as a family. They live, eat, breathe skits-in-the-making constantly, and seem to assume that they will always be together. They’re very open, feeling free to criticize someone’s performance or how they’re behaving. Although writer/director Mike Birbiglia is a comedian, as are many of the actors, Don’t Think Twice is as much a drama as it is a comedy.
The drama comes when it dawns on everyone that they have individual aspirations, and some will succeed and others won’t, at least for a time. It puts a strain on the group, and they have to work through the congratulatory high-fives, the envy, the disappointment and the realization that they indeed will not always be together. Interestingly, some actually blossom, and some find other avenues of satisfaction, such as personal relationships and new venues.
It’s a strength of Birbiglia’s writing and direction that the drama has depth and realism and goes beyond pure comedy. It covers competitiveness in the workplace, coping with limited funds, intrusions of events and people in the outside world, problems in finding/keeping a venue, and personal relationships. Not that the comedy isn’t funny; it is. I especially like the beginning when a history and definition of improv is outlined, with its three basic rules: Say yes (building on what your partners create), remember it’s about the group—not one individual, and don’t think (get out of your head).
The improv moments are funny within a backdrop of a group of young people who are wrestling with the realities of life in show business.
The heartbreak of not being chosen.
Grade: B By Donna R. Copeland