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I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Standup Comedy's Golden Era

I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Standup Comedy's Golden Era

Written by William Knoedelseder

Narrated by William Dufris


I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Standup Comedy's Golden Era

Written by William Knoedelseder

Narrated by William Dufris

ratings:
4.5/5 (12 ratings)
Length:
8 hours
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 7, 2009
ISBN:
9781400171842
Format:
Audiobook

Description

I'm Dying Up Here chronicles the collective coming of age of the standup comedians who defined American humor during the past three decades. Born early in the Baby Boom, they grew up watching The Tonight Show, went to school during Vietnam and Watergate, migrated en masse to Los Angeles in the mid-1970s, and created an artistic community unlike any before or since. They were arguably the funniest people of their generation, living in a late-night world of sex, drugs, dreams, and laughter. For one brief shining moment, standup comics were as revered as rock stars. It was Comedy Camelot but, of course, it couldn't last.



In the late 1970s, William Knoedelseder was a cub reporter assigned to cover the burgeoning local comedy scene for the Los Angeles Times. He wrote the first major newspaper profiles of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Andy Kaufman, and others. He got to know many of them well. And so he covered the scene too when the comedians-who were not paid for performing at the career-making-or-breaking venue called the Comedy Store-tried to change an exploitative system and incidentally tore apart their own close-knit community.



Now Knoedelseder has gone back to interview the major participants to tell the whole story of that golden age and of the strike that ended it. Full of revealing portraits of many of the best-known comedic talents of our age, I'm Dying Up Here is also a poignant tale of the price of success and the terrible cost of failure-professional and moral.
Publisher:
Released:
Sep 7, 2009
ISBN:
9781400171842
Format:
Audiobook

About the author

William Knoedelseder is the New York Times bestselling author of Bitter Brew: The Rise and Fall of Anheuser-Busch and America’s Kings of Beer, as well as the critically acclaimed Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia. His book I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy’s Golden Era is the basis for the Showtime series of the same name. He lives in Los Angeles, California.



Reviews

What people think about I'm Dying Up Here

4.4
12 ratings / 2 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (4/5)
    Comedy was king in Los Angeles in the '70s. And the Comedy Store in Hollywood was one of the focal points of that movement. "I'm Dying Up Here" details the rise and fall of comedy in LA.

    A free space was offered for comics to try out their stuff, called the Comedy Store. But the owner made money while the comedians struggled. A strike was called that forever split the comedians into two camps.

    A lot of familiar faces are here, including David Letterman, Jay Leno, Elayne Boosler, Richard Lewis, Andy Kaufman, Robin Williams ... imagine what it must've been like to see these talented people on their way up!

    Greed and drugs destroy some of the comedians, and success and failure pretty much destroys the rest. All the while, the comedy keeps coming.

    This was an amazing book to find for $2 at Half Price Books. That's why I love the place. And this is one book I recommend to friends.

    For more of my reviews, visit Ralphsbooks.
  • (3/5)
    A history of the mid-1970s stand up comedy scene at Mitzi Shore's Comedy Store in LA (including Jay Leno, David Letterman, Richard Lewis, Elayne Boosler, Robin Williams, and many more), written by a journalist who covered the comedy beat for decades and knows the comics from that scene well. This is very readable, although sometimes a little scattered as Knoedelseder tries to capture the antics and personalities of a whole stable of comedians. The book gets better as it focuses in on the organization of a group to protest the lack of payment for comedy "showcases" even when the Comedy Store and other clubs were bringing in thousands of dollars in cover and drink money. The standoff between the young comedians and the stubborn Shore is interesting and (for the most part), well told, there are some great digs at strike-buster Garry Shandling, and the death of one of comedians at the end of the strike is really moving. Knoedelseder has some writing quirks (some of which are pretty sexist in an old white dude journalist clueless kind of way -- are all lesbians really "militant feminist lesbians?"), but he knows his stuff and any lover of the comedy scene will find something to love in this book. I'm still trying to figure out why we the lives and careers of stand up comics and professional chefs are so super interesting, but that's probably a question for another venue....