You’ve probably heard the phrase ‘laugh until you cry‘ but a couple of nights ago, I watched a show that made me cry-laugh. No really. Ugly crying and laughing my ass off (I have a lot off ass, go figure).
It feels like I’ve been bleating on about my excitement for I’m Dying Up Here for months now and, after watching the show’s premiere, the hype was well deserved. With Jim Carrey serving as executive producer and a cast that boasts names such as Melissa Leo, Clark Duke and Ari Graynor, this new series from Showtime has all the ingredients of a hit. Throw in Sebastian Stan in the pilot episode, and, surprise surprise, I was utterly sold.
Set in 1970’s Los Angeles, I’m Dying Up Here, focuses on Goldie’s: a comedy club famed for priming the finest comedians for superstardom under the guidance of Goldie herself (played by Melissa Leo). The gang are a close knit bunch, so much so that when one of their own, the tragically dashing Clay Appuzzo (Sebastian Stan), makes it on to the Tonight Show, they find themselves huddled around the television together, anticipating the moment of truth: will he impress so much that he gets the couch? Of course he does.
But mere hours later, he walks out in front of an oncoming bus (sorry Stan clan, his role on this show is short lived… no pun intended), feeling like he’s reached his peak with nowhere left for him to climb.
It’s Clay’s story that seems to serve as the show’s catalyst, propelling viewers into the plight of these stars in the making. Stan enjoys very little screen time, however, what we do see of him is satisfying enough; he is, after all, seasoned in playing these tortured souls throughout his career and he brought just that to Clay. Stan conveys Clay’s pain in such a subtle yet convincing way that you just can’t help but lap it up. Not only that, but some of the writing of Clay really resonated with me on a personal level, particularly that line about being far more honest around strangers than loved ones. It’s something I endlessly wrestle with in life. Not to mention the feeling of dread I have about actually realising my own potential in my career, which I saw in Clay’s character.
But I have to admit, it was Clay’s ex, Cassie (Ari Graynor) that wowed me the most. Over the course of the episode, we see Cassie struggle against Goldie’s judgment that she isn’t ready to perform on the main stage and it’s her grief at losing (and being haunted, in a sense, by) Clay that forces her to evolve. I became so invested in her plight, that I was on the edge of the seat towards the show’s climax, when she finds herself on the main stage, faltering (David Flebotte and your glorious writing team, I salute you big time). But the kicker comes when she reminisces about her ex in the most lewd yet heartbreaking fashion. This was it. This was when I cry-laughed.
I cannot wait to see more of this show and you can bet your ass I’ll be blogging about it as the season progresses.
I’m Dying Up Here premieres on Showtime on June 4. You do not want to miss this!