‘I’m Dying Up Here’ Review Roundup: Showtime Series Shows Bleak Side Of Stand-Up Comedy
I’m Dying Up Here is a new TV series on Showtime that depicts the landscape of stand-up comedy in the 1970s, and is executive produced by Jim Carrey. While those on screen are fictional characters, the content is informed by Carrey and various comedians. The show is cringeworthy at times when joke after joke doesn’t land, but is an important look at the industry.
The show also takes a look at mental illness and depression, issues many comics face, despite making people laugh for a living. In fact, most jokes are aimed at themselves, showing a certain vulnerability. The premiere episodes includes a suicide by a comedian, paving the way for tragedy in the series. Melissa Leo and Ari Graynor star in this dark comedy.
I’M DYING UP HERE REVIEW ROUNDUP
“When I tuned in to watch the premiere of Showtime’s new series I’m Dying Up Here, I expected that a show about standup comics would be, well, pretty funny. Although the episode definitely had a few laugh out loud moments, I was taken aback by the decidedly bleak depiction of the 1970s world of standup comedy. Case in point — I most definitely wasn’t expecting a tragic suicide in the show’s very first episode. But, although it doesn’t deliver as many laughs as I expected, I’m Dying Up Here shows the dark side of comedy — and that’s an important angle to cover, too… If the premiere is any indication, I’m Dying Up Here will bring an unexpected, but certainly not an unwelcome side of the genre to our screens.”
–Caitlin Flynn, Bustle
“I’m Dying Up Here comes up short. The series could be a fascinating depiction of comedians, but it struggles to find an engaging point of view to explore its setting. For a series about comedians, it often feels as though I’m Dying Up Here is in search of a punch line. A lot of it has to do with the show’s structure. It’s a loose company of characters, each of whom is related in some way or another to the world of stand-up comedy. And yet, in the pilot directed by Jonathan Levine (Snatched), and for the next few episodes at least, the show is much more about asking the audience to experience a vibe than it is in telling specific story.”
–Kevin Yeoman, screenrant.com
“Do we need another show about the entertainment biz? Not really, but this one rewards your viewing in a way that makes it unusually worthwhile. It’s a slow build through the first few episodes, but once you’re invested, you’re in it for the long haul.”
–Emily Zemler, The Guardian
“The main problem with I’m Dying Up Here is that it is just all over the place in terms of both characters and overall tone. It never gives you enough time to become fully invested with a certain character or theme before whiplashing you to another series of events… [Each character] is sharing screen time with nearly twenty other characters that each have their own personalities, problems, and plots that are all vying for focus during the show’s running time. It is intimidating, and while I get what the show is attempting to accomplish, it just can’t manage to bear the weight of its own aspirations. So what about the comedy? Well in that department I can confidently say this series — in its dealing with the lives of comedians — is indeed funny as it tracks the lounge lizards hoping for their big break in the hard life of standup. Each of these characters has a sharp tongue, and they manage to throw out zingers on a regular basis that will elicit a chuckle every now and again. But then you come crashing back to Earth when something heart-wrenching or just plain unbelievable takes place… Only give this one a watch if you’re a die-hard comedy fan — but don’t expect to laugh.”
–Evan Valentine, Collider
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