This is an archival story that predates current editorial management.
This archival content was written, edited, and published prior to LAist's acquisition by its current owner, Southern California Public Radio ("SCPR"). Content, such as language choice and subject matter, in archival articles therefore may not align with SCPR's current editorial standards. To learn more about those standards and why we make this distinction, please click here.
Jim Carrey Gets Showtime Pilot On '70s Comedy Club Scene In L.A.
Jim Carrey is tapping into the dark side of comedy as the executive producer of a new Showtime pilot about the 1970s comedy club scene in Los Angeles.The network announced today they ordered the hour-long pilot of I'm Dying Up Here, Variety reports. It comes from the mind of writer Dave Flebotte (Masters of Sex, Desperate Housewives), who was previously a standup comedian, and is executive produced by both him and Carrey. The show is based off the 2009 non-fiction novel by William Knoedelseder.
The '70s were considered the golden era of comedy, when folks like Jay Leno, David Letterman and Andy Kaufman rose in the Los Angeles scene. I'm Dying Up Here takes a look at the "inspired and damaged psyches that inhabit the hilarious, yet complex business of making an audience laugh," according to Variety.
Publisher's Weekly discussed the premise of Knoedelseder's book, which might give us some insight into the pilot:
Mitzi Shore, recently labeled "the Norma Desmond of Comedy" by the Los Angeles Times, took over L.A.’s Comedy Store in 1973 with a no-pay policy because she saw it as "a training ground, a workshop, a college." It became a focal point for local comics, including [Richard] Lewis, his friend Steve Lubetkin, Elayne Boosler, Tom Dreesen, Letterman, Leno and many more. Some were in desperate circumstances, surviving by living in their cars and eating bar condiments. Driving a silver Jaguar to her "massive, cash-generating laugh factory," Shore was seen as "cunningly manipulative," and her unfair payment policies led to an organized strike in 1979 by the CFC (Comedians for Compensation). This confrontation of comics vs. club owner ("Not... one... red... fucking... cent") is the core of the book, with the suicide of Lubetkin taking the tone from comedy to tragedy.
Showtime Networks President David Nevins said, "Who better than Jim Carrey and Dave Flebotte, who were both there, to tell the story of that special era along with the complicated and talented performers that dared to grab an open mic."
It seems fitting Carrey would be involved in a project about the dark side of comedy, as the comedian has been open about his struggle with depression. He described himself to CNN in a 2008 interview as a "weird, serious person."