The premise for Mike Birbiglia’s new film—a follow-up to his 2012 debut, Sleepwalk with Me—probably sounds insufferable. Basically, he’s gathered sketch-comedy performers from IFC, Comedy Central, and Netflix for a film about a New York improv troupe. Watch them succeed! Watch them fail! Watch them fall in and out of love! And that’s exactly what happens.
Writer-director Birbiglia plays Miles, the 36-year-old founder of the Commune, an Upright Citizens Brigade–like group, who are at risk of losing their performance space, so they have to figure out whether to relocate, break up, or look for more lucrative gigs, since they all work day jobs to make ends meet (Kate Micucci from Garfunkel and Oates, is a UCB veteran). Then Jack (Key and Peele’s Keegan-Michael Key) lands a gig with Weekend Live, which strains his relationships with the other members, particularly his girlfriend, Sam (Love’s Gillian Jacobs).
If the film isn’t especially funny—the curse of most comedies about comedy—I’m not sure that was Birbiglia’s intention. Mostly, it’s like a lo-fi cover of Morrissey’s “We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful.” Kind of whiny, kind of mean, and kind of true.
NOTE: On Friday, August 5, filmmaker Mike Birbiglia will be at SIFF Cinema Uptown for a Q&A moderated by local filmmaker Megan Griffiths at the 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. shows.