Mike Birbiglia got his start in comedy by joining an improv troupe at Georgetown University, and went on to write, direct, and star in 2012’s Sleepwalk With Me, release multiple standup specials, and pop up in a number of TV shows and movies like Orange is the New Black and Trainwreck. Now he’s returning to the improv world for Don’t Think Twice, a dramatic comedy that he stars in alongside Gillian Jacobs, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, and Tami Sagher, who together play a long-running improv group going through a major change.
“I tried to make a movie that hearkens back to the films that I fell in love with in the ’70s and the ’80s that make you laugh and then make you cry. That’s the goal,” Birbiglia tells EW. And that goal was achieved — at least for him: “I can’t watch the movie without crying,” he says. “I don’t watch the movie anymore. I can only do that once in a while.”
Most of the drama comes from one of the troupe members moving on to a Saturday Night Live-inspired sketch show and how that affects the rest of the team. Birbiglia says the idea for the movie partly came from an observation his wife made after watching Mike Birbiglia’s Dream, the comedian’s improv show at Upright Citizens Brigade.
“She said, ‘Your improv friends are so much nicer to each other than your standup friends,'” he laughs. “‘Your standup friends buy more into the hierarchy.’ … In improv, everyone is equal.” But not so much in real life: For example, in the movie, the one who breaks big, well, breaks big, while a few of the others share a cramped, dorm-style apartment.
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“I had this moment where I realized, this feels like it could be a Big Chill-type of dramatic comedy,” Birbiglia says. “I wrote this phrase on my wall as a principle: ‘Art is socialism but life is capitalism.’ It’s not in the movie as a line because it would be absurd if the character literally said the metaphor for the movie out loud, but it was a guiding principle for the movie.”
Don’t Think Twice, which Birbiglia also wrote and directed, first premiered at South by Southwest in March to rave reviews, and the film will make its official debut July 22 after Birbiglia sets off on an improv tour across America. See the dates for that tour below, and see the exclusive movie poster below.
San Diego: June 2
Phoenix: June 7
San Francisco: June 8
Seattle: June 10
Boston: June 27
Philadelphia: June 28
Washington: June 29
Dallas: July 10
Minneapolis: July 11
Detroit: July 12
Chicago: July 14