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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2005 William Knoedelseder (P)2009 Tantor

What the critics say

"Knoedelseder skillfully layers powerful dramatic details." ( Publishers Weekly)

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  • sarah a phetteplace
  • 2018-06-03

great depiction of real stand-up.

I loved it! I'm a borderline obsessive fan of stand-up. this book fed my osession.

1 person found this helpful

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  • DB
  • 2018-03-15

Nails on a chalkboard narration.

This is hands-down the most irritating narrator I've come across. The cadence is unbearable, and the only way I made it through without abandoning it altogether was to speed it up, which helped to elide some of the more ridiculous and unnecessary emphasis throughout. Will make a point to avoid this narrator in the future.

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  • mrieke
  • 2015-05-02

Very good despite a couple of errors

Having listened to many of Marc Marron's interviews with Comedy Store veterans, I liked hearing the venue's early history. The errors were 2 mentions of Billy Crystal with a role in "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" (it was "Soap"); and a mention of the '80s show "Saturday Night" being on NBC (it was on ABC

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2021-06-28

Fascinating true story!

From start to finish the whole story is completely captivating. I am a stand-up comedian of no real importance but I don't think you even have to be to enjoy this piece of American culture.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2020-11-29

Eff Ned Mencia

Good book, great story. The narrator could have been a little better. I would recommend for comedy fans. Especially since the recent Mike Binder 6 part series on the Comedy Store.

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  • Ben I.
  • 2015-08-20

Great Book

If you ever wanted to know why the Comedy Store is so relevant to the history of comedy this is a book for you. Most of the comics famous today have a Mitzi Shore story of some sort and this explains why. Being from the Midwest I had no idea who Steve Lubetkin was and am sad now that I didn't.