Gillian Jacobs: The Improvised Interview
Don't Think Twice
In Mike Birbiglia’s Don’t Think Twice (in theaters now), Community‘s Gillian Jacobs stars as an improv comedian opposite Keegan-Michael Key. So we put her skills to the test, asking her questions and feeding her prompts that affected how she answered.
Can you give me the basic setup of the film? [Pretend the paper you’re reading your answers from catches on fire.]
The movie is about the improv troupe called the Commune, and the theater they PERFORM AT… I HAVE TO HURRY. IT’S BURNING. And the theater that they perform at is closing, and they don’t know what to do with their lives, and they’re in a crisis, and ow, ow, ow
What was your first reaction to the script?[Answer as if you’re only partly aware of how a phone works.]
Is this coming through? I thought that the script was funny and… Do I have to press any buttons so that you can hear me? I’m not sure if this is… Blink twice if you can hear me. But I also thought it captured the bitterness and jealousy, which people don’t really like to talk about. And… You know, I’m just not sure if you’re still there because I’m not seeing any of the lights flashing.
What kind of director is Mike Birbiglia? [Answer as if he’s watching you very closely.]
Mike Birbiglia is not only one of the most talented directors that I’ve ever worked with, but also he has the most gorgeous eyes—probably of any human being on the planet—and just smells…wonderful…all of the time.
How was it pretending to be in a relationship with Keegan-Michael Key? [Incorporate three expletives into your response.]
It was absolutely f—ing wonderful to be in a fake relationship with Keegan-Michael Key. He’s the opposite of a s—ty scene partner. He’s a great scene partner and so fully committed to the process, so playful but also damn near the best actor I’ve ever worked with.
How much experience did you have with improv before the film?[Mention that you went to Juilliard as many times as possible.]
At Juilliard they don’t teach improv, because Juilliard doesn’t really value improv because Juilliard thinks that the written word is king. At Juilliard if you say even one word incorrectly, you’re in big trouble, because Juilliard is a very serious place. So I had little to no experience with improv prior to working on this film.*
What attracts you to a project? [Answer as if you’re very hungry.]
I thought this movie would have particularly good snacks because it was shot in New York City, which is home to many wonderful foods. I wanted to play a different sort of character, one that I have never gotten to play before, and eat some great pizza.
What advice would you give people interested in trying improv? [Ignore the question entirely.]
Go see Don’t Think Twice. It stars myself, Kate Micucci, Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Birbiglia, Tami Sagher, and Chris Gethard, and is produced by Ira Glass of This American Life.
*”You’re going to explain the joke, so people don’t think I’m wildly pretentious, right?”
Don't Think Twice