Do you ever get the feeling that you are the only one watching a certain show on television? I do. A lot. Either I have great taste in media and my friends are the “middle of the road” types or they have great tastes and I am wasting my time with obscure gems. I think Showtimes “I’m Dying Up Here” falls into the former.
Set in the Los Angeles comedy scene of the late ’70s, I’m Dying Up Here follows a group of up and coming comics who perform nightly, for free, at Goldies comedy club. None of the main characters are based on actual living people, but I am sure they are amalgamations of tried and true comics who graced the stage of ‘The Comedy Store” during that same era.
The first season was a nice table setter. Getting all the different players in place and defining the world in which they lived. Since this is a big and diverse ensemble I can’t list them all, but their are the new out of towners, the lone female comic, the older black comedian and the young upstart zooming past him in stage time. The experienced veteran who just booked Carson and the other experienced veteran who had booked Carson and is willing to burn it all down. I enjoyed the first season but felt the stakes were lacking and the characters needed more space to separate themselves from one another.
Season 2 just finished airing on Showtime and in all honesty, I forgot it was on. It wasn’t until I was on Crave TV looking for something else that I saw NEW EPISODES blazed across the icon that I thought, ‘oh shit, I should watch this’ and I proceeded to dive into it and of course as is the way nowadays, binge the whole thing in a matter of a few nights. And I am glad that I did. This season has to be one of the best depictions of 70’s era life on TV that I have ever seen. The stories expanded and the characters got some much needed and sometimes undeserved breaks (looking at you Ron Shack a.k.a Benny the Mailman) Not everything had to take place in the club and the show is better for it. But the best reason to watch this season is for an amazing guest turn by Brad Garrett.
Playing legendary comedian “Roy Martin”, Garrett gives a performance that should earn him at least an Emmy nomination next year if not a win. He took what could be a one note character of over-the-hill-not-relevant-anymore-angry comedian and give him depth and warmth and most importantly humour. I find too often on these shows, that the funny people on the stage are never the funny people in the cast. I was hesitant at first when I saw him appear as the big guest star, but I am so glad he did it. Going toe to toe with Melissa Leo is no easy task and Garrett holds own and makes the show better.
With so much TV and so much GOOD TV being made these days its always hard when someone recommends a show that you have’t heard of. So all I can say is that if you are fan of stand up comedy and period pieces then this show might be for you. It may have been shaky in season 1 but only gets better in season 2 and hopefully will blow our collective minds if it gets picked up for a third.