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

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In the mid-1970s, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Andy Kaufman, Richard Lewis, Robin Williams, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, and several hundred other shameless showoffs and incorrigible cutups from across the country migrated en masse to Los Angeles, the new home of Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. There, in a late-night world of sex, drugs, dreams and laughter, they created an artistic community unlike any before or since. It was Comedy Camelot—but it couldn’t last.

William Knoedelseder was then a cub reporter covering the burgeoning local comedy scene for the Los Angeles Times. He wrote the first major newspaper profiles of several of the future stars. And he was there when the comedians—who were not paid by the clubs where they performed— tried to change the system and incidentally tore apart their own close-knit community. In I’m Dying Up Here he tells the whole story of that golden age, of the strike that ended it, and of how those days still resonate in the lives of those who were there. As comedy clubs and cable TV began to boom, many would achieve stardom.... but success had its price.

Review:

"In 1978, Knoedelseder (Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia) was a journalist assigned to cover newcomers transforming the comedy clubs: 'For the next two years, I had stage-side seats at the best show in show business.... I met and wrote about Jay Leno, David Letterman and Richard Lewis before the world knew who they were.' Mitzi Shore, recently labeled 'the Norma Desmond of Comedy' by the Los Angeles Times, took over L.A.'s Comedy Store in 1973 with a no-pay policy because she saw it as 'a training ground, a workshop, a college.' It became a focal point for local comics, including Lewis, his friend Steve Lubetkin, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, Letterman, Leno and many more. Some were in desperate circumstances, surviving by living in their cars and eating bar condiments. Driving a silver Jaguar to her 'massive, cash-generating laugh factory,' Shore was seen as 'cunningly manipulative,' and her unfair payment policies led to an organized strike in 1979 by the CFC (Comedians for Compensation). This confrontation of comics vs. club owner ('Not... one... red... fucking... cent') is the core of the book, with the suicide of Lubetkin taking the tone from comedy to tragedy. Filmmakers will eye this as a potential property similar to Bill Carter's The Late Shift (1996), about Letterman and Leno. Knoedelseder skillfully layers powerful dramatic details, and readers will shelve the book alongside those other key classics on comedy: Steve Allen's The Funny Men and Janet Coleman's The Compass." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

In April 1972, a moderately successful comic named Sammy Shore opened a small club in Los Angeles called the Comedy Store. Fellow comics would hang out, perform — unpaid — and often drink free.

At the end of the year, Shore left for several months to perform in Las Vegas and asked his wife, Mitzi, to run the club. Soon after he returned to L.A., though, the couple divorced and... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Synopsis:

Full of revealing portraits of many of the best-known comedic talents of the 1970s, "I'm Dying Up Here" is also a poignant tale of the price of success and the terrible cost of failure--professional and moral.

Synopsis:

A little-known story of the brief, shining moment when comedy’s stars-to-be were starving artists and friends in 1970s L.A.—and of the strike that tore them apart

Synopsis:

Chronicles the collective coming of age of the stand-up comedians who defined American humour during the last 30 years, including David Letterman, Jay Leno and Robin Williams.

About the Author

William Knoedelseder has been a journalist with The Los Angeles Times, executive producer of Fox Entertainment News and of the Philadelphia Inquirer’s television news program “Inquirer News Tonight,” and vice president of news at USA Broadcasting. He is the author of Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, The Music Business, and the Mafia, and In Eddie’s Name. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he lives near Los Angeles.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781586483173
Publisher:
PublicAffairs
Subject:
Theater - History & Criticism
Author:
Knoedelseder, William
Subject:
Labor
Subject:
Comedy
Subject:
General Humor
Subject:
Stand-up comedy - United States - History -
Subject:
Humor-Comedy Business and Criticism
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20090831
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 pp. b/w photos on text
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
9.25 x 6.13 in

Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Narrative

I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 304 pages PublicAffairs - English 9781586483173 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In 1978, Knoedelseder (Stiffed: A True Story of MCA, the Music Business, and the Mafia) was a journalist assigned to cover newcomers transforming the comedy clubs: 'For the next two years, I had stage-side seats at the best show in show business.... I met and wrote about Jay Leno, David Letterman and Richard Lewis before the world knew who they were.' Mitzi Shore, recently labeled 'the Norma Desmond of Comedy' by the Los Angeles Times, took over L.A.'s Comedy Store in 1973 with a no-pay policy because she saw it as 'a training ground, a workshop, a college.' It became a focal point for local comics, including Lewis, his friend Steve Lubetkin, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, Letterman, Leno and many more. Some were in desperate circumstances, surviving by living in their cars and eating bar condiments. Driving a silver Jaguar to her 'massive, cash-generating laugh factory,' Shore was seen as 'cunningly manipulative,' and her unfair payment policies led to an organized strike in 1979 by the CFC (Comedians for Compensation). This confrontation of comics vs. club owner ('Not... one... red... fucking... cent') is the core of the book, with the suicide of Lubetkin taking the tone from comedy to tragedy. Filmmakers will eye this as a potential property similar to Bill Carter's The Late Shift (1996), about Letterman and Leno. Knoedelseder skillfully layers powerful dramatic details, and readers will shelve the book alongside those other key classics on comedy: Steve Allen's The Funny Men and Janet Coleman's The Compass." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , Full of revealing portraits of many of the best-known comedic talents of the 1970s, "I'm Dying Up Here" is also a poignant tale of the price of success and the terrible cost of failure--professional and moral.
"Synopsis" by ,
A little-known story of the brief, shining moment when comedy’s stars-to-be were starving artists and friends in 1970s L.A.—and of the strike that tore them apart
"Synopsis" by , Chronicles the collective coming of age of the stand-up comedians who defined American humour during the last 30 years, including David Letterman, Jay Leno and Robin Williams.
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