Mike Birbiglia’s “overnight success” began way back in 2008, when he performed his one man show, “Sleepwalk With Me” to critical and commercial acclaim in New York City. Four years later, Birbiglia wrote and directed a same-titled semi-autobiographical screen adaptation and simultaneously broke out with strong supporting roles in “Girls,” “Orange is the New Black,” and most recently, “Trainwreck” (as Amy Schumer’s schlubby, but well-intentioned brother-in-law, Tom).
After enjoying an equally forceful auxiliary role in John Green’s tearjerker adaptation of “The Fault in Our Stars,” Birbiglia is once again testing his comedic and dramatic chops to produce a brand new feature length comedy, centering on an improv group who’s loyalty is put to the test when they learn that one of their own might have an actual shot at TV stardom.
While success lies at the very core of many great Hollywood spectacles, few rarely explore what takes place behind the scenes when talented performers don’t succeed. Birbiglia’s heart-wrenching breakup from longtime girlfriend of seven-plus years, Abby, served as a catalyst for his reflective, observational approach to “Sleepwalk With Me.” Their relationship’s demise struck a chord with audiences because it carried the weight of real-world resonance, a poignant reminder that success can be just as damaging for couples as it is a savior.
If he returns to the director’s chair with the same level of wit and melancholy to “Don’t Think Twice,” he’ll have yet another prized story in his canon of honest and profoundly moving laugh-out-loud surprises.