This is a spoiler-free advance review of the first episode of I’m Dying Up Here, which premieres on Showtime on Sunday, June 4. The pilot is also currently available to stream on Showtime’s website and YouTube.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single stand-up comedian in possession of a strong sense of humor must be in want of a stable personal life. That’s the driving idea behind shows like Louie, and it remains true with I’m Dying Up Here, Showtime’s new period dramedy about a group of struggling comics in early ’70s Los Angeles. But while there’s always an appeal in watching a series that aims to explore the tortured soul that exists the 99% of the week they aren’t on-stage, I’m Dying Up Here’s heavy ensemble focus proves to be its undoing.