“Has anyone here had a particularly hard day?”
That’s the question the fictional improv group “The Commune” asks at the beginning of every show in the fabulous movie “Don’t Think Twice.” It’s an open-ended question that any audience member can respond to, by saying anything, and then the magic begins: The six comedians onstage take whatever is thrown out and make a hilarious sketch out of it.
Improv comedy is one of the most fun shows you could possibly get into, but it’s also very, very hard, isn’t at all lucrative, and can lead to quite a lot of frustration.
I love Mike Birbiglia, as I’ve expressed on here before, and I love Keegan-Michael Key, and when a movie starring two of my favorite comedians has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 99 percent, I had a feeling I’d love “Don’t Think Twice.”
And I did. This 90-minute little gem of a flick, about an improv group and what happens when one of them makes a “Saturday Night Live”-type show is terrific. I thought it would be funny, and it was. But it was much sweeter and tender than I expected, as we get storylines like Bill (Chris Gethard’s) Dad struggling with health issues, and Miles (Birbiglia) being the elder statesman/teacher character and being forced to watch his pupils have better careers.
Gillian Jacobs is sensational in this movie (I never watched “Community” so I didn’t know her that well), and the dialogue and reactions of the characters feel very real.
“Don’t Think Twice” isn’t playing in wide release, sadly, because in the summer only superhero-type movies make money. But if it’s playing near you, I highly recommend it.
Next up today, another incredible night for American athletes at the Rio Olympics so far, and also might I say me and millions of others may be wrong about these Games being a total disaster? Oh, there have been problems in Rio so far, but not nearly the disaster it appears to be (NBC’s TV coverage, however? Yeah, that’s a disaster).
I promise to write about the fantastic Katie Ledecky sometime soon, but tonight I’m all about Michael Phelps. This guy… I mean, is he more dominant, for a longer period of time, than any athlete, ever? You can say Michael Jordan and Wayne Gretzky were each on top as long as the 12 years Phelps has, and I would say you’re right.
But Phelps is right there on the same level as MJ and Gretzky, and great as they were, they had teammates. Tuesday night, competing in an event he said he’d never do again (the 200 butterfly), he turned back challenger Chad Le Clos from South Africa and squeaked out yet another gold medal win.
That’s 21 gold medals for Phelps now, more than all but 40 countries have ever won. Phelps has 21 golds, the next closest athletes have NINE. NINE!
The superlatives are useless in describing him, they really are. Guy is a once-every-hundred-years kind of competitor, and we’re lucky we’re alive to see him.
**Finally today, a few words about Alex Rodriguez, who’s announcing his retirement from baseball on Friday.
Good. Riddance. One of the most despised players in baseball in the last 40 years, his career is a testament to cheating, phony statements and sentiments, and an overall persona eclipsed in jerkitude (not a word but I’m making it one) by only Barry Bonds.
I’ve been a Yankees fan for 35 years, and he’s far and away my most despised Yankee (Clemens is No. 2). He is one of the greatest players to ever play, with natural talent so many would kill for, and he chose to knowingly cheat, then lie and obfuscate about it for years.
I cannot wait until he’s out of that Yankee uniform for good. Few have disgraced it as much as he has.