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You are here: Home > Recent > News > "I'm Dying Up Here" Interview
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"I'm Dying Up Here" Interview
20 Feb 2016    

By Eva Ara˙jo (Web correspondent)

A few articles ago we were very pleased to announce that Showtime has decided to pick up the series "I'm Dying Up Here". The show is based on the stand up comedy scene of the 70's and Jim Carrey is one of the executive producers.

The website Vulture has recently sit down with Dave Flebotte, the show's co-creator/executive producer to talk more about the project and why talk about the comedy scene in that especific time.


Jim Carrey


Here's some of the interview:

"Can you tell me a little bit about the genesis of the project?
My agent brought me a book called I'm Dying Up Here that Jim Carrey and Michael Aguilar had optioned. I loved that scene. I dabbled in stand-up in the '90s and I've always been in love with comedy. I thought it could really be a cool period piece. You see those times with music but you don't see it in the comedy world.

You've written for both comedies and dramas. What's your goal is in terms of tone with I'm Dying Up Here?
It's a drama. It's a drama infused with dark comedy rather than a comedy infused with drama. Still, we wanna be funny, and we're having fun. It was a sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll era. We lean into that and we lean into what was fun about it, but also what was the psychology that drove them to success.

Why do you think this is a good time to do this show?
No one's really done it yet. In the past I found that if you wanted to pitch a period piece, forget it. People are scared they're gonna cost a lot of money to dress up like that time. Now, especially with cable, they're very open to time periods. And no one's captured this time. I don't want to knock the movie Punchline, but it didn't offer an accurate depiction of what that world was like. It wasn't how I remembered the clubs being. So, this was another way of exploring that time period in America, especially because comedy was coming up so strong. In the '60s we had Richard Pryor and George Carlin and this transformation that was taking place. From that, standing on the shoulders of those guys, comedy really became more personal and more interesting because it wasn't just set up/punchline. I wanted to get in there first.

The source book is nonfiction, but the show is not about David Letterman and Jay Leno and the real people in the scene. Are key figures going to be passing through?
It's a hybrid. The characters are a composite of different comics that I like. Of course, I'm veering way from that as I'm writing, and then when you cast the actors you veer away from your original concept even more. Then they're just individuals that are funny.

A lot of the people we cast are stand-ups, so they already have a voice and we tailored the characters to that. I don't want it to be so insular that it seems like the LA comedy scene was seven comics. We want it to feel fluid, people coming in and out, and we wanna have the Lettermans and the Lenos and the Pryors. You want them in that world. You want them to be essential. Maybe they're just coming out on stage and having a little exchange. It doesn't have to be the focus of anything. They may be tools to inspire or facilitate story, but I don't think we have the legal right to do anything more than that.

Are you writing acts for these fictional comedians?
I did in the pilot, and that changed more than anything. When you have actors like Andrew Santino and Erik Griffin and Al Madrigal, these are established stand-ups. They do this for a living, so they elevate everything. Like with Al, it was all his. His character's act was very specific to being Mexican-American. I can do a serviceable job, but then they bring their own inflection and their own take on it. "How about I say this after?"

When it comes to the dialogue, I can be a little bit precious, but when it comes to the stand-up, they have all the leeway in the world because they're the pros. For me, it's more about honing point of view and working within that point of view and that time period. Because a lot of times what happens is, we go like, Oh, that's really funny, but in 1973, that wasn't a phrase. Or, You wouldn't do that to get on Carson in 1973.

So, it will go through these filters and hopefully be funny, because there's nothing worse than watching stand-up that doesn't sound like stand-up, just bad writing. I talked to Tom Dreesen, who was big in the '70s and creative consultant on the show. He helped me with the specifics of that time period. He was on Carson like sixty-something times. There was a lot of stuff like, Yeah, we wouldn't do that, That was probably much later, and You'd never get on Carson with that material. It was all fine-tuned.

Are you setting it in a specific year?
1973. I don't know what time of year. I know I'm writing something right now that's specific to the fall. It's LA. You don't have to worry about what time of year it is. It's just sunny.

Why '73 and not, say, '75 or '76, or even '81?
I wanted it to be like it was picking up steam. I didn't want to be at the very beginning. But it is right when Carson mentioned The Comedy Store on his show. That is what started this flocking to Mecca, where Mitzi [Shore, the club's owner] became the gatekeeper to Carson, which became the lottery ticket to a sitcom, a movie, any kind of success, Vegas, albums, whatever. '78 is when it really peaks, but it also starts to fall apart a little bit. When comics started to get successful - you have your Robin Williamses that went from zero to millions of dollars. You had drugs, like pot. Pot was very communal. Then when money came in, cocaine came in. Then it became cliques - those that were invited in and those that weren't. Pot didn't galvanize them in any way, as it was something that was shared. Cocaine did the opposite, as it was given judiciously to those that were in a higher circle. It started to push that family aspect apart a little bit.

Also, in '73 you had the beginning of Roe v. Wade, you had the end of the Vietnam War, you had Watergate. Not that we're going to delve into all those period things, but everything was happening."

Read the full interview here:
- click here

This show is getting more and more appealing by the minute. We got to know a little bit more about this project but we are very excited to see more.

We at JCO will keep you updated as more news come.

-- Source: Vulture. Click to comment this article.

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