Mike Birbiglia on how improv made him a better director
Comedian Mike Birbiglia's new film Don't Think Twice follows a close-knit improv group that starts to feel the strain when one of its members gets a big break on a hit TV show. Birbiglia tells us what improv and directing have in common, and how he's set out to "hand-deliver" his film to theaters.
For his first film, comedian Mike Birbiglia turned his one-man off-broadway show Sleepwalk with Me, about the struggle to make it as a stand-up, into an indie movie. Now he's again writing, directing and acting in a new film, Don't Think Twice. This time Birbiglia shifts his attention to a close-knit improv troupe, and the fallout when one member gets a dream job on a hit TV show. He tells KCRW's Matt Holzman how improv made him a better director and why he's traveling around the country holding free improv workshops.
Photo: Comedian Mike Birbiglia, director of Don't Think Twice. (Evan Sung)
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'Don't Think Twice' director Mike Birbiglia
20 MIN, 24 SEC
Improv theaters like the Upright Citizens Brigade and Second City have long served as proving grounds for future Saturday Night Live stars. But of course, only a few standout performers ever actually get there.
In his new movie Don't Think Twice, comedian Mike Birbiglia explores the anxiety of trying to land a life-changing TV job -- and if that's not happening, deciding when it's time to just give up on a career in comedy.
Birbiglia co-produced Don't Think Twice with This American Life host Ira Glass, who was also co-producer of Birbiglia's first film, Sleepwalk with Me. Many public radio listeners may have first heard Birbiglia's name after he started contributing to Glass's show eight years ago.
Together Birbiglia and Glass have attended dozens of screenings and done Q&A's to drum up interest in Don't Think Twice -- which has an almost perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Birbiglia wrote, directed and acts in the bittersweet indie about a close-knit improv troupe called The Commune that's faced with shifting dynamics after some of its players get noticed by scouts from a comedy show called Weekend Live. The Commune also has another problem -- they're losing their Manhattan theater space to make room for another Trump building.
Birbiglia tells KCRW's Matt Holzman about his process for creating a movie that is mostly scripted, but feels off the cuff, and how he's had to devise his own marketing and distribution plan to get the film into theaters across the country.