Don't Think Twice Keegan-Michael Key Gillian Jacobs Mike Birbiglia

The spotlight’s not for everyone. 

Trying to pin down the fleeting, evanescent spirit of improvisational comedy on film would seem a pretty fruitless pursuit. Yet Don’t Think Twice, writer-director and co-star Mike Birbiglia’s bittersweet comedy-drama about a struggling New York improv troupe, makes an excellent stab at the endeavour.

His film’s tight-knit six-strong ensemble, the Commune, is sent into a crisis when one of its members, Keegan-Michael Key’s ambitious Jack, wins a spot on a hit TV show (Saturday Night Live in all but name). As long-submerged rivalries and jealousies begin to surface, the other members of the group – including Jack’s girlfriend Samantha (Gillian Jacobs) – are forced to take stock of their lives.

As this suggests, there’s a streak of melancholy running through Birbiglia’s movie. But it’s also very funny in places. And when the gang is sparking off one another on stage, we do get a sense of the seat-of-the-pants nature of their craft. As Samantha puts it, we’re watching people put the plane together when they are already in the sky.

Certificate 15. Runtime 92 mins. Director Mike Birbiglia

Don’t Think Twice debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on 17 December. Available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.