Since I bought my Kindle a few years ago, I’ve read almost no traditional paper-and-ink books. I have hundreds of them lying around the house, but Kindle changed the game for me. It’s just a better experience, in my estimation.
So, I find myself thinking in a pre-Kindle, post-Kindle sort of way. And during the post-Kindle era, I’m Dying Up Here has turned out to be one of my favorites. It’s a history of modern stand-up comedy, focusing mostly on the 1970s, and the folks — legends and also-rans — who worked at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
It’s a great story, expertly told. I’m a big comedy fan, and believed I was knowledgeable about such things. But I was wrong. Many of the comics who populate this book were unknown to me, and almost all are fascinating in some crazy way. I loved the stories of Leno and Letterman and Kaufman during the early days of struggle and hard work. But some of the lesser-known names are just as compelling.
I also wasn’t aware that the comics went on strike against the Comedy Store, demanding a small payment for sets performed at the club. This standoff led to decades-long grudges, backstabbing, political jockeying, and one spectacular suicide orchestrated for maximum impact.
If you’re a fan of comedy, I consider this one to be almost a must-read. It’s hard to put down, and wildly entertaining. The Suggestaholic suggests you check it out.