Who doesn’t love watching stand-up comedy? The jokes, the atmosphere, the performance – there’s nothing quite like seeing your favorite comedians get up on stage, knowing that you’re going to laugh so hard you’ll cry. But there’s a lot going on behind the scenes of comedy too, which is exactly the premise of I’m Dying Up Here, a new Showtime series that focuses on stand-up comedy in the 1970s.
The new series is loosely based on the nonfiction book, I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy’s Golden Era (PublicAffairs Paperback, May 23, 2017) by William Knoedelseder, that chronicles the real-life comedy scene of the mid-70s, when rising stars like Andy Kaufman and Robin Williams flocked to LA in order to make it big. Knoedelseder describes a golden age of tremendous hope and opportunity, but also fierce competition, strikes and corruption. It’s a world that’s perfectly captured in Showtime’s series, giving us an even more intimate look at a time where it seemed like anything was possible. True to history, I’m Dying Up Here is heartfelt and a little heartbreaking, showing us what it truly means to chase after your dreams.
Set in LA, the show follows young hopefuls like Adam (RJ Cyler) and Cassie (Ari Graynor) as they vie for a place in the spotlight – and, if they’re lucky, a spot on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. It also stars Melissa Leo as Goldie, a straight-talking comedy club owner who can make or break a struggling comedian’s career. Jim Carrey is executive producing the show, lending his own stand-up expertise to the production.
The trailer alone is enough to sell you on this fast-paced, retro-vibed drama:
If you’re still jonesin‘ for more stories about comedy after you finish watching the first episode of I’m Dying Up Here, then here are three recent books to fit all of your stand-up needs:
Thank You For Coming to Hattiesburg, Todd Barry (Gallery Books, March 14, 2017)
Successful comics get used to doing shows in big city venues with thousands of fans cheering them on. But well-known comedian Todd Barry likes to visit the quieter places – the cities no one has heard of, performing in small clubs (and even rec centers!) around the country. This memoir is a hilarious journey through those shows as Barry tours America while drinking coffee, meeting fans, and having adventures along the way. Thank You for Coming to Hattiesburg is down-to-earth and filled with Barry’s trademark dry wit – perfect for any lover of stand-up.
Waiting for the Punch, Marc Maron & Brendan McDonald (Flatiron Books, October 10, 2017)
It might not be out until October, but fans of Maron’s crazy successful podcast, WTF, are already eagerly awaiting this collection that pieces together moments from his epic interviews. No one can get to the heart of a story quite like Maron, and he’s used his candid style to get both comedians and stars to consistently open up and let us see a side of them we might never have before. And while Maron has interviewed some true icons (including Barack Obama!), his best podcasts have always been with his friends: stand-up comedians he’s known since the start of their careers. Waiting for the Punch is part storytelling, part inspirational, and, knowing Maron, will definitely be entertaining.
The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell, W. Kamau Bell (Dutton, May 2, 2017)
The tagline for Bell’s new memoir is: “Tales of a 6’4”, African American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian,” which should tell you everything you need to know about the author and comedian’s story. As the host of the CNN documentary series United Shades of America, Bell is used to going deep. This book is no exception, diving into his past, his politics and his experience as a stand-up comedian. Timely and honest, The Awkward Thoughts will make you laugh, make you think, and make you want to read it all over again.