Not this series’ finest hour. I’M DYING UP HERE’s sixth episode, entitled “Girls Are Funny, Too” is my least favorite episode since the pilot, and that is not a good sign for the rest of the season.
“Girls Are Funny, Too” seemed rather unfocused. Or maybe it was just that I had a hard time focusing as I was utterly bored with what was going on before me. At times I didn’t understand the way characters were acting, as they were going against what we’ve been told about them. This is typically not something that throws me off. Real characters are multi-dimensional, and don’t always act in consistent ways. In fact, they shouldn’t if you want to keep your audience on their toes. But if they act out of character, there needs to be something that enlightens the audience to include why that action was actually IN character after all. Some justification. I’m Dying Up Here fails to provide that.
Last week we left off with newcomer Nick being called onto stage of The Tonight Show, only he had just shot up a dose of heroin in his dressing room. This week opens with Nick surprisingly functioning and able to perform a set for Carson. We discover that he’s basically doing comedy gigs to fund his and his girlfriend’s addiction. In one tough to watch scene, Nick barters with a drug dealer when he is short the cash needed to buy more heroin, eventually giving him his $80 leather jacket his mother gave him. “Yeah, you’re not a junkie,” says the dealer. Later, Nick comes home to find Teddy waiting for him, offering him a deal: play one month at his club and get half the door’s proceeds. Nick’s girlfriend can’t even wait for Teddy to leave, she immediately takes the supply Nick brought home and shoots up in the bathroom. Nick of course has to consult with Goldie first, but you know how this ends. He is going to take the money and continue shooting up. Is there any doubt?
Goldie and Eli are on the verge of selling their TV show “Girls Are Funny Too.” They have the girls all picked out and lined up, all ones that Goldie feels are ready for primetime, and none that we have actually met before in the show. This does not include Cassie, who practically begs Goldie to include her. Goldie insists she’s not ready, and that people die from exposure all the time. She makes Cassie agree to wait. She invites the TV executive to come see some of them perform, and he does. In the end, he says he heard about Cassie and would like to see her on the show because she’s attractive. In fact, it’s the only way the show will go on. Now Goldie must go back with her foot in her mouth to Cassie and ask her to be on the show. But when she does, Cassie has gone through something that is making her think twice.
When Ralph has to bail on a corporate stand-up gig, he asks Cassie to do it. She’s not met with a warm welcome. She does some stand-up for a bunch of male executives in a ball room and gets heckled. But she gives back pretty good, and everyone has a good time. She ends up being paid far less than what Ralph told her it pays (Ralph told her it was $200 for thirty minutes and the even runner tells her “That’s if you’re Ralph”). On her way to her car after the event, she is followed by the man who heckled her and assaulted. She’s saved at the last moment by a hotel employee with a can of mace. She gives it to Cassie. But Cassie is understandably shaken. So when Goldie offers her the show “Girls Are Funny Too” and tells her that she needs to be pretty first, funny second, it is unclear what she will do.
Ralph was unable to take that gig because… he has suddenly taken an invested interest in young Adam. Adam, as we saw last week, basically moved into a high class whorehouse. Run by Barton Royce, a pimp and also apparently Richard Pryor’s agent, Adam calls Barton out for what he is and gets a long speech about how he didn’t have any choice as a black man than to become a pimp. This seems to resonate with Adam, but Ralph doesn’t like it. Out of nowhere he seems to take Adam under his wing, inviting him over to his place for a drink. He brags about the booze he has in stock and the bar he built for himself. But when he tries to get Adam to rescind his friendship with Barton Royce, Adam gets defensive and tells Ralph to worry about himself. Later, we see Ralph destroyed the bar he constructed to the point of having bloody fists. He sips his drink while watching TV, still bleeding. It comes off as insane. Why is he suddenly so invested in Adam? And why did he hurt himself destroying something he was proud of building? I mean, besides the fact that he was drunk. I just don’t get it and this storyline completely took me out of this episode and confused me.
Meanwhile, Sully takes Bill on a business call for some reason (no, really, why would you EVER do this) and of course Bill ruins it, blaspheming in front of the religious customer. But somehow Sully isn’t mad. They smoke pot and sing Dionne Warwick songs. I understand that this is somehow Sully trying to re-embrace the comic lifestyle he’s had to abandon since taking a full time job and providing for a kid. But when his livelihood is on the line, I don’t see how he allows Bill to screw it up and then is okay with it. In the end he goes back to try and fix things with the customer.
Usually the Ron and Eddie storylines are my favorite, but this one did not do it for me. It was basically the plot of a 90’s sitcom and did not belong on this show. Ron and Eddie take two girls out on a date at a restaurant, but don’t have enough money to pay for their expensive orders. They are forced to do a hot wing challenge. While Clark Duke will always make me laugh just by being Clark duke, the story just seemed easy and could have been funnier.
Overall, the episode was confusing character-wise and not nearly as entertaining as the previous handful of episodes. This would not have been a surprise after the pilot episode, but after a few weeks of strong showings, this was a let down.
Season 1, Episode 6 (S01E06)
I’m Dying Up Here airs Sunday at 10PM on Showtime
Paul Gulyas | Contributor