It’s Hard Out Here for a Comic – Don’t Think Twice (2016)

The comedy lifestyle.  So this is about an improvisational theatre troupe.  They’ve got a small following, but they all have aspirations of something bigger.  When one of them (Keegan-Michael Key) hits it big and lands a spot on what is the equivalent of Saturday Night Live, it rocks the group to their core.  Now I’ve been affiliated with a comedy troupe before.  I was never one craving the limelight so of course I was not a player; I was more of a support member that dabbled in writing, but nevertheless, I saw much of the process behind the scenes.  That was sketch comedy, which is a very different animal than improv, but regardless, this movie does a great job at telling it like it is.

1Of course it would be Keegan-Michael Key to make it big.

I’ve been to an improv show before, and while I had a good time, it isn’t really a brand of comedy that I ever have a hankering for.  It’s just an uncontrollable beast, and it is hard to do right without everybody yelling over one another and stepping on each other’s toes.  This group is like the best improv group that you will ever see, and honestly, if this inspires you to go and check out a local improv show, you should restrain your expectations, because it is highly unlikely that it will be as good as the material showcased here.  The movie does capture what improv is all about, though, and even the script feels very improvised, which is absolutely appropriate.  It is all about the live performance, and rolling with the first thing that pops into your brain.  Because it is able to summarize an entire subgenre of comedy in 90 minutes, I feel that Don’t Think Twice is hugely successful.

2Comedy is hard, guys.

If you are at all familiar with comedians, you would probably be able to guess that there is a lot of underlying sadness in these performers’ personal lives.  All the best comedy usually comes from a place of depression, which is why so many of the best comics out there usually get so real with their sufferings in their material, like Louie C.K. for example.  The story feels very authentic, and it full encapsulates what a struggle it is just to do what you love.  They all want to make it, but the fact of the matter is that in the comedy game, those openings are few and far between, and only a small percentage of a small percentage are actually going to be able to make a living at it.  I give this an enthusiastic recommendation, especially if you have ever wanted to know what happens behind the performance.

Don’t Think Twice (2016) ****

– Critic for Hire

Want to see where this fell in my list of best films of the 2016?  See for yourself here.


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