I'm Dying Up Here

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

3.92 (1,084 ratings by Goodreads)
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David Letterman, Jay Leno, Robin Williams and Andy Kaufman and many other soon-to-be-stars were once young, broke and funny in 1970's LA. They were also friends...until one event changed everything I'm Dying Up Here chronicles the collective coming of age of the stand-up comedians who defined American humour 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-1970's 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, stand-up comics were as revered as rock stars.It was Comedy Camelot but, of course, it couldn't last. In the late 1970's 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 Leno, 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 incidentially tore apart their own close-knit community. Now Knoeldelseder 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 America's best-known comedic talents of the 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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 162 x 238 x 30mm | 521.63g
  • PublicAffairs,U.S.
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 8pp black and white photos
  • 158648317X
  • 9781586483173
  • 932,771

Review quote

Publishers Weekly, STARRED review "Knoedelseder skillfully layers powerful dramatic details, and readers will shelve the book alongside those other key classics on comedy."Shelf Awareness "A revealing and entertaining look at the 1970s Los Angeles comedy scene and the labor dispute that ended its most glorious era."Booklist "Fact-packed, highly readable history... peppered with plenty of portraits of struggling young comics, some destined for national fame, others headed to obscurity and, in a few cases, early death."Buffalo News "One of the most eye-opening and informative books ever written about standup comedy...One of the books of the year for any student of American television and pop culture...A little-known story has now been told very well in perfect context. And when you finish the book you may feel as if you finally understand every comedian you see on TV for the first time."Daily Variety "A lively new book...Knoedelseder reminds us that comedy is a dicey calling."New York Times Book Review"Illuminating"show more

About William Knoedelseder

William Knoedelseder has been a journalist with the Los Angeles Times, executive producer of Fox Entertainment News and Vice President of News at USA Broadcasting. He is the author of Stiffed: The True Story of MCA, The Music Business and the Mafia and In Eddie's Name: One Family's Triumph Over Tragedy. He lives with his family in Los Angeles.show more

Rating details

1,084 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 25% (269)
4 47% (507)
3 24% (264)
2 4% (43)
1 0% (1)
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