I recently wrote about
how some sitcoms have the same plots by chance. But sometimes whole shows seem similar, and you wonder if they were developed with an eye on each other.
Sometimes there's no question. After Animal House
was such a big hit the three networks (back when you had three networks and not much else) each put on their "Animal House"-style sitcom, one--Delta House
--directly adapted from the movie with some of the same actors. They all flopped, by the way. Then in 1990 there was the TV version of Ferris Bueller
on NBC, while Fox (hey, a new network) did a knockoff--that was considerably better--called Parker Lewis Can't Lose
Last year, HBO and Showtime put out dramas about the business side of rock and roll, Vinyl
. Both were high profile projects, and both were rejected by the viewers. (They weren't that bad--I was sorry to see them go.)
And now, this year, both HBO and Showtime are giving us their take on the world of stand-up comedy. Coincidence? (Last week I posted about kinds of comedy
, but I didn't include comedy about comedy.)
, which debuted over the weekend. It's created by Pete Holmes, who stars as a younger version of himself--he's got a failing marriage and is just starting out in stand-up. He goes to the clubs and we meet other comedians playing themselves. Above all we meet Artie Lange as himself--Holmes leaves his cheating wife and crashes in Artie's pad.
The pilot wasn't bad. Holmes is low-key but charming, and Lange comes across well. The show is also produced by Judd Apatow, who must have more projects going than anyone else in town. Mike Birbiglia is a consultant, which makes sense, since he made a movie, Sleepwalk With Me
(2012), that was about his early days in stand-up.
Then there's I'm Dying Up Here
, which will debut later this year on Showtime. Created (but not written by) Jim Carrey, it's based on the William Knoedesleder book
of the same name about the 1970s LA comedy scene. It stars Melissa Leo as a comedy club owner who I can only assume is a fictionalized version of Mitzi Shore, who ran the Comedy Store back then.
It sounds interesting, but you always wonder, when there's a show about comedians, will we be seeing much stand-up within the show? That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it can be weird, since you're once-removed from it--is the stand-up part of the plot, or is it to be enjoyed on its own. Ironically, if you're involved in the world of the characters, you'd probably rather see them offstage anyway.