Synopses & Reviews
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.
"Knoedelseder offers a fascinating account of the 'Comedy Camelot' days of the 1970s when Los Angeles abounded with future comedy superstars. Everyone from Jay Leno and David Letterman to Andy Kaufman and Robin Williams struggled through late-night sets in clubs that refused to pay them for their efforts, until a strike tore the comedy community apart and paved the way for future generations. William Dufris delivers a strong reading that is slightly more straightforward than many listeners might be searching for. However, it gets the job done and entertains along the way. Dufris has a journalistic tone to his voice, imbuing his narration with gravity and sincerity. A PublicAffairs hardcover (Reviews, June 1). (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Knoedelseder skillfully layers powerful dramatic details." ---Publishers Weekly Starred Review
Focusing on the "funniest people of their generation," Knoedelseder explores Comedy Camelot--the burgeoning Los Angeles comedy scene of the 1970s--and such shining stars as Leno, Letterman, and Andy Kaufman. Unabridged. 5 CDs.
David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams, Andy Kaufman, Richard Lewis, Garry Shandling, and many other soon-to-be-stars were once young, broke, and funny in 1970s Los Angeles. They were also friends...until one event changed everything.
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 hour-long nightly 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: One Family's Triumph Over Tragedy. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, he now lives near Los Angeles with his wife and two children. William Dufris began his audio career doing radio plays, audiobooks, film/animation dubbing, and language tapes in London, where he lived for thirteen years. While there, he had the honor of sharing the microphone in a number of BBC Radio plays with Kathleen Turner, Sharon Gless, Stockard Channing, and Helena Bonham-Carter. These experiences led him to cofound two audio production companies: The Story Circle Ltd. and Mind's Eye Productions. He has also acted on stage and television in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Germany. William is the original voice of Bob (and Farmer Pickles/Mr. Beasley/Mr. Sabatini) in the popular children's show Bob the Builder for the United States and Canada (Series 1-9). He produces, directs, acts and engineers for his audio theatre company, Rocky Coast Radio Theatre. He has been nominated nine times as a finalist for the APA's prestigious Audie Award and has garnered twenty-one Earphones Awards from AudioFile magazine, which also named him one of the Best Voices at the End of the Century, as well as one of the Best Voices of the Year in 2008 and 2009.