SXSW hasn’t announced their comedy lineup yet, but the film portion of the festival line up was released and there are a couple of options that should make hard core (especially improv) comedy fans giddy with delight.
The magic that happens when Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia hang out is oozing out of the NPR studies and into the world of improv comedy with the Narrative Feature Don’t Think Twice. With Glass as producer, Birbiglia will explore the story of an “improv troupe who loses the lease on their home theater at the same time that one of their cast members gets chosen for the biggest sketch comedy show on TV. It’s about the bitterness and backstabbing that occur between friends when they realize that maybe not everyone’s gonna make it after all.” An issue that stand up comedians rarely face– improvisors function as a team or a band. Don’t Think Twice should provide us with a behind the scenes look at what happens when the band breaks up. Stand up comedians everywhere finally get a chance to understand why improvisors are so damn happy. or not. Don’t Think Twice stars Gillian Jacobs, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate Micucci and Chris Gethard.
Continuing on the Improv theme, this year’s SXSW will also be home to the World Premiere of Thank You Del: The Story of the Del Close Marathon. Del Close is an Improv comedy legend, pioneer, mentor to all and pretty much achieved guru status in the genre of Improv. The concept of long-form improv a.k.a. the Herald, the most respected (and difficult genre to pull off) form of improvisation was a Del Close invention. While he was never a household name, any comedy enthusiast is aware of his impact. From Bill Murray to Chris Farley to Amy Poehler, many of the most famous comedians consider him their mentor. Fifteen years after Del Close’s death, thousands of Improv students, comedy fans, actors, and successful comedians gather to celebrate the most important person in modern comedy that no one knows. Think about how a lot of stand up comedians felt when the Bill Hicks movie came out, then multiply it by a lot and you will have an idea of how exciting this documentary is to comedy junkies.
See the full SXSW Film lineup, which also includes a couple of UK comedies Black Mountain Poets, and War on Everyone, and another doc called Asperger’s Are Us, about a comedy troupe comprised of four friends on the autism spectrum. Two comedies also show up on the Episodic premiere list. The first, Search Party, casts familiar faces Alia Shawkat and John Early in a dark comedy about self absorbed twenty somethings entangled in a mystery when an old friend disappeares and Vice Principals, another dark comedy series takes on the story of a power struggle in a highschool run by two vice principals, with Danny McBride, Busy Philipps, Walter Goggins and Kimberly Hebert Gregory.
SXSW also includes a full slate of comedy at their annual festival, which has not yet been announced, but we’ll post info on that as it becomes available. The SXSW Film Festival runs from March 11th to March 19th. The primary concentration of comedy shows are set for March 12-15 with additional comedy events running one per day from the 16th to the 19th.