Yep, there already is a book about that.
And yep, it would make a great movie, and I’m sure it’s been in development for years — although casting would either be a cinch or a bitch.
Like Huffington, Shore [yes, that’s Pauly Shore’s mom] insisted that the Comedy Store was a showcase where comedians could get exposure that would lead to paying gigs elsewhere — talent agents and bookers for “The Tonight Show” were in regular attendance, she pointed out. The comedians were unmoved; without them, they argued, there would be no customers. But Shore was adamant. “The Comedy Store is a workshop,” she said, “and in that environment the comics don’t deserve to get paid.”
So the comedians, led by Tom Dreesen, a regular on “The Tonight Show,” formed Comedians for Compensation and picketed the club carrying signs like “I’m Funny for Money” and “No Bucks No Yucks.”
Leno and Letterman walked the picket line, Bob Hope bestowed his endorsement, and in the end the comics prevailed and Shore started paying. The strike ended the precedent — spreading to other clubs around the country — that nightclub owners should expect comedians to perform for free (…)
The comedians who struck the Comedy Store, some of whom were subsisting on pilfered saltines while playing to sold-out houses, demanded money for their work and got it — not only for themselves but, as Knoedelseder pointed out, also for the comics who followed during the 1980s when comedy clubs sprang up in nearly every city of consequence.
The Comedy Store strike proved that talent could set a price for its worth — so long as the idea of working without pay wasn’t accepted by both sides as a plausible business model. As Dreesen, the comedian and leader of the strike, lamented in 1979: “We did this to ourselves — we agreed to work for free six years ago. Now we’re trying to undo it.”
RELATED update — Agreed. This was beautifully observed, and quite moving (note: The Who was the perfect choice). TV can be art, even for a minute and a half:
In one of Freaks and Geeks most touching scenes, Bill Haverchuck is alone in his living room, completely at peace with the world even though he had been humiliated earlier in the day in a gym class basketball game. Why? Because he’s eating a grilled cheese, drinking some milk, and watching Garry Shandling perform standup on Dinah! As the Who’s “I’m One” plays in the background and we see Bill’s genuine laughter, one thing is clear: no matter how shitty things are going, you can always count on comic geniuses like Shandling (and for the viewer, Judd Apatow) to cheer you up.