A great read. Loved this book because it killed without wasting my time Superior clean and tight writing like William Knoedelseder s is scarce Did not want to put it down because all those comedians of my life got immortalized in the land of my youth, Southern California I came to the book because Showtime s fictional version with the same title had kept me bingeing the stream with no pause Nice surprise to find in the book the truth behind the fiction The only slowdown occurred toward the end amid the minutia detailing the comedians strike But I warn you, do NOT miss the last few chapters They will surprise you, shock you, and move you. Boring boring boring Almost as slow as the first few episodes of the television show Give the tv show a chance though Way better than the book. Like many who are probably reading this book now, I read it in anticipation of the Showtime series that is based on the book which airs this summer Unfortunately, it looks like the cast of characters on the series are all fictional but will probably be loosely based on the real comedians except Johnny Carson.The book follows the 1970 s when The Tonight Show moved to California and with it, a lot of comedians followed in search of stardom Most of the book follows individual comics as they get their big break on stage at The Comedy Store Jay Leno, David Letterman, Richard Pryor, Andy Kaufman, Elayne Boosler, Robin Williams, Jimmie Walker, and Freddie Prince to name just a few If you enjoyed the comedians on The Tonight Show during Johnny s reign, you ll love all the name dropping in this book Eventually the book follows the formation of the CFC Comedians for Compensation which fought against the owner of The Comedy Store Mitzi Shore to get her to start paying comedians for their stage time Mitzi always thought of the club as a college where comedians honed their act thanks to her generosity while she pocketed all the money the club made from drinks and cover charges Mitzi was also quick to take credit for all the agents and bookies in the crowd who sought out talent for movies, TV shows, and The Tonight Show Eventually the CFC won and earned paid stage time along with half the door but not without consequences including arson, picketing, cut spots, and suicide All true While reading the book I enjoyed hitting up YouTube between chapters to check out Jay Leno and Dave Letterman s first time on The Tonight Show, or I looked up comedians who I had never heard of or had not watched in years I love a book that makes me want to research about the topic And like I said, if you enjoy comedy you ll enjoy all the name dropping The book is a fast read that I couldn t put down and is written in the style of like sitting around the dinner table and hearing your grandpa tell you stories about back in the day I look forward to seeing how Showtime does with the series. In The Mid S, Jay Leno, David Letterman, Andy Kaufman, Richard Lewis, Robin Williams, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, And Several Hundred Other Shameless Showoffs And Incorrigible Cutups From All 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, Then A Cub Reporter Covering The Scene For The Los Angeles Times , Was There When The Comedians,who Were Not Paid For Performing,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 Laughing to Keep from CryingOne of the best narratives of comedy in the seventies It walks the perfect line when everyone one was living for the day and the next hour yet pursuing a truly dangerous career names are simply not necessary in this case A novel brought to life the golden Svengali promising fabulous wealth and fame, endless verbose brilliance delivered by the downtrodden,, oppressed, depressed, and distressed The complete freedom to fail on stage and by that very act able to carve out a name for yourself The story line in this work is very well connected and filled with little vignettes of all the successful comics from Williams to Leno The off stage Letterman surprised me than anything, He was so dare I say it kind and it illustrates the bankrupt nature of having your persona on TV being the only real knowledge anyone has of you A very strong five stars I wished it had gone on farther but really this was the story This is the book that the Shotime series of the same name is based on That series is a fictionalization of the book, but the book is actually non fiction and it tells the story of the comedy explosion of the 70 s and 80 s The book is well written and flows between narrative and oral history really well.The first half of the book is the stronger half as it follows many of the threads that lead to the careers of Jay Leno, David Letterman, Richard Pryor, Robin Williams and especially Richard Lewis If the book were to really have a main character it s Richard Lewis and his story really intersects with many of the different branches of what happened in NY and LA at the Improv and Comedy Store.The second half of the book gets really caught up with the quazi union of comedians and their struggle with Mitzy Shore and the Comedy Store The conflict is important, but it dominates the narrative so strongly it eclipses many of the individual comics narratives.I listened to the Audiobook version of this book, which is well narrated by William Dufris, who does a good job keeping the comic timing from the sections of the book which are taken from the oral history If you are interested in this topic, I solidly recommend this book I purchased this book after hearing Richard Lewis mention it on his interview at The Nerdist.A great story and extremely well told I m a comedy fan, yet besides knowing something about how Pauly Shore s mother owned a comedy club, I had no idea about this amazing story You get to learn about the origin of Leno and Letterman and also much about Richard Pryor, Richard Lewis, and Andy Kauffman Even interesting are the 2nd tier comics, people I ve had to check out on youtube since reading the book You definitely get immersed in the world of standup comedy and all the struggle that comes for those who never quite make it.I haven t said this about many books in my life, but this is one that I could not put down I think I read it in four sittings I can t stress enough what an accomplishment this book is He introduces about 20 characters, develops them all, and you get to learn a lot of history of the entertainment world even a bunch about Johnny Carson in the 1970s. Like any child of the seventies, it is hard to imagine another period of our lives that could live up to our memories of that special time Things were just different for the country as a whole We were finished with Vietnam and no longer innocent in our belief that we were invincible But that also led us into an incredible time for creative endeavors of any kind Look at the music, the art, the comedy and even television of that era It is hard to argue that a better time for the creative arts existed within our lifetimes This book captures that spirit of the comedy world beautifullyeven in its tragic moments of loss You would be hard pressed to find anyone who came of age in that time that doesn t look back with the fondest of memories The struggles of that time brought us together like no other time in recent memory Even our drug abuse reminds us of a coming together for creative purposesat least until it became problematic for so many of us It led us into the eightieswhich quickly turned dark for so many creative spirits with the AIDS epidemic. I m Dying Up Here was a wonderful read If you like showbiz books, comedy, and inside scoops on what s shaking in some of those celebrity minds, then do yourself a favor and buy a copy of this book.Gone are the days of the Golden Era of stand up comedy The life style, viewpoints, and groundbreaking comedy of the 70s and 80s have been buried a long time ago They were buried with television deals, strong arming of talent, broken promises between friends, and crossroads that were not expected I m Dying Up Here is a play on words, of course, and a good one at that Many comedic hopefuls with stars in their eyes, who are talented, are naive and romantic You see it today at open mics across the country and it was just the same in the early days of Leno, Williams, Letterman, and Prince The difference between now and then was the faith that something good was bound to happen It had to it was the beginning of something wonderful and, if you were lucky enough to be around then, it was a wave that seemed to be washing anyone with a witty personality onto the golden shores of California This is the age of the comedy club, of relational comedy, of Carlin and Pryor It was also the age of extreme heartbreak and untimely deaths.I m Dying Up Here made me laugh, it made me sad, and it made me look at the art of comedy in a much different way It was and is so much than just writing jokes It s an art and it is probably the last true art form in the entertainment industry There are no gimmicks, no smoke and lights, no make up or special effects There is just the comic and his words And for some, their words were all they would ever have.