Showtime has renewed I’m Dying Up Here for a second season. The series, which explores the 1970s standup comedy scene in Los Angeles, aired the 10th and final episode of its excellent first season on Sunday, August 13, but it remained in limbo for nearly a month before Showtime finally committed to Season 2 in a September 8 announcement.
As recently as the August 31 Dan’s Literary Festival, East Hampton native and Oscar-winning actress Melissa Leo (The Fighter, Treme)—who plays comedy club owner Goldie Herschlag, a mentor to young comics and gatekeeper to appearances on Johnny Carson’s The Tonight Show—was unsure if the show would return for Season 2. She said I’m Dying Up Here didn’t have high enough ratings to make renewal a sure thing, but Showtime is clearly betting on the show to do better once word gets around and more people watch it on streaming services, DVD or Blu-ray.
“It is gratifying that so many comedians tell us this series really nailed the comedy club experience,” Showtime’s President of Programming Gary Levine said in the announcement. “The talented ensemble of I’m Dying Up Here, led by the brilliant Melissa Leo, and an equally skilled creative team behind the scenes, tell stories that scale the heights of comedy and the depths of drama, often at the same time,” Levine continued, adding, “Having heard their plans for Season 2, I’m excited about the journeys these characters will take and the new ground the show will break.”
Leo does indeed lead a brilliant ensemble, including stand-up comedian Andrew Santino (as comedian Bill Hobbs), Ari Graynor (as female comedian Cassie Feder), Erik Griffin (as Vietnam vet, comedian and writer for Sonny and Cher, Ralph Carnegie), Jake Lacy (as Nick Beverly, a comedian and addict getting a taste of fame), RJ Cyler (as Adam Proteau, a hot young comedian who could be the next Richard Pryor), Clark Duke and Michael Angarano (as Ron Shack and Eddie Zeidel, best friends who come to L.A. from Boston to chase their comedy dreams), Al Madrigal (as Mexican comedian and drug dealer Edgar “Manny” Martinez) and Stephen Guarino (as Sully Patterson, a comedian struggling to balance being a responsible husband and father with his commitment to stand-up).
In her role as Goldie, Leo reveals a wonderfully nuanced character based, at least in part, on L.A. legend Mitzi Shore, founder and owner of the Comedy Store, who initially refused to pay her comedians, arguing that she was offering priceless experience, mentorship and exposure. Like Shore, Leo’s Goldie is a tough, brash businesswoman who demands loyalty from her comics. The ambitious character is hardened from her painful personal life, but she betrays moments of softness and love for the young men and women who grace her stage.
I’m Dying Up Here is a fictional series based on the non-fiction book of the same name by William Knoedelseder. Created and executive produced by Dave Flebotte and executive produced by Golden Globe–winner Jim Carrey, Michael Aguilar and Christina Wayne, the show will go back into production this fall, with 10 episodes premiering in 2018.
Do yourself a favor and catch up on this fantastic, smart show now. With enough viewers in Season 2, there should be no doubt that I’m Dying Up Here will return for Season 3. It would be a real loss to see this series disappear. Watch the trailer below.