As HBO’s “Vinyl” was to classic rock, this newcomer is to the 1970s comedy boom around L.A.’s Sunset Strip. Created by Dave Flebotte (“Masters of Sex”) and executive produced by standup veteran Jim Carrey, “I’m Dying Up Here” examines the transition in comedy from setups and punchlines to something more idiosyncratic and personal.
The show is loosely based on the William Knoedelseder 2010 book of the same name that explored the rambunctious history of the Comedy Store. It occupies the same world when careers were born by an invitation to sit next to Johnny after a set on “The Tonight Show,” but unlike the vanquished HBO show the series doesn’t fixate on stand-ins for the famous names.
Instead it centers on a group of young comedians, including real-life Comedy Store regulars like Andrew Santino and Al Madrigal along with Ari Graynor (“Whip It”), Clark Duke (“Greek”) and Oscar winner Melissa Leo, whose performance as the owner of the Goldie’s offers a strong foundation. Focusing on the often dark and desperate quest for fame and the weird addictive alchemy that results when a well-crafted joke lands, the series should resonate with hardcore comedy fans.