Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

( 98 )

Overview

The riveting, mega-bestselling, beloved and highly acclaimed memoir of a man, a vocation, and an era named one of the ten best nonfiction titles of 2007 by Time and Entertainment Weekly.

In the mid-seventies, Steve Martin exploded onto the comedy scene. By 1978 he was the biggest concert draw in the history of stand-up. In 1981 he quit forever. This book is, in his own words, the story of “why I did stand-up and why I walked away.”

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Overview

The riveting, mega-bestselling, beloved and highly acclaimed memoir of a man, a vocation, and an era named one of the ten best nonfiction titles of 2007 by Time and Entertainment Weekly.

In the mid-seventies, Steve Martin exploded onto the comedy scene. By 1978 he was the biggest concert draw in the history of stand-up. In 1981 he quit forever. This book is, in his own words, the story of “why I did stand-up and why I walked away.”

Emmy and Grammy Award–winner, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Martin has always been a writer. His memoir of his years in stand-up is candid, spectacularly amusing, and beautifully written.

At age ten Martin started his career at Disneyland, selling guidebooks in the newly opened theme park. In the decade that followed, he worked in the Disney magic shop and the Bird Cage Theatre at Knott’s Berry Farm, performing his first magic/comedy act a dozen times a week. The story of these years, during which he practiced and honed his craft, is moving and revelatory. The dedication to excellence and innovation is formed at an astonishingly early age and never wavers or wanes.

Martin illuminates the sacrifice, discipline, and originality that made him an icon and informs his work to this day. To be this good, to perform so frequently, was isolating and lonely. It took Martin decades to reconnect with his parents and sister, and he tells that story with great tenderness. Martin also paints a portrait of his times—the era of free love and protests against the war in Vietnam, the heady irreverence of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late sixties, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the seventies.

Throughout the text, Martin has placed photographs, many never seen before. Born Standing Up is a superb testament to the sheer tenacity, focus, and daring of one of the greatest and most iconoclastic comedians of all time.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Absolutely magnificent. One of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written." - Jerry Seinfeld, GQ

....

Janet Maslin
Born Standing Up does a sharp-witted job of breaking down the step-by-step process that brought him from Disneyland, where he spent his version of a Dickensian childhood as a schoolboy employee, to both the pinnacle of stardom and the brink of disaster…Even for readers already familiar with Mr. Martin's solemn side, Born Standing Up is a surprising book: smart, serious, heartfelt and confessional without being maudlin. Decades after the fact he looks back at a period of invention and innovation, marveling at the thought that his efforts might have led absolutely nowhere if they had not wildly succeeded.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Neatly combining his personal and professional worlds, beloved comedian, filmmaker, author, magician and banjoist Martin (Pure Drivel) chronicles his life as a gifted young comedian in this evocative, heartfelt memoir, which proves less wild and crazy than wise and considerate-though no less funny for it. The typically reticent performer shares rarely disclosed memories of childhood-his father, a failed actor, harbored increasing anger toward his son through the years-and the anxiety attacks that plagued him for some two decades, along with his early success as a television comedy writer, first for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and the evolution of his stand-up routine. Sharp insight accompanies stories of his first adult gig (at an empty San Francisco coffeehouse), his pioneering "no punch lines" style ("My goal was to make the audience laugh but leave them unable to describe what it was that had made them laugh"), appearances on programs like The Steve Allen Comedy Hourand breakthrough moments with small, confused audiences. Though the book is vivid and entertaining throughout, Martin doesn't dish any behind-the-scenes dirt from Saturday Night Liveor The Tonight Show; rather, he's warm and generous toward everyone in his life, including girlfriends and colleagues. Tellingly, this intimate early career recap ends not with Martin's decision to give up live performance or his first starring role in The Jerk, but with a visit to his parents and Knott's Berry Farm, where he first performed as a teenager. (Nov.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

In analyzing the development of his stand-up comedy career, Martin considers to have written a biography of someone he used to know. With a preteen passion of becoming a master magician, he escaped domestic turmoil by working at a magic shop in Disneyland. Once he gained confidence in performing live, his eclectic brand of humor was honed at coffee clubs and in local theater productions. Along the way, Martin studied philosophy, which allowed him to observe comedy as social commentary. Within a few years, he stumbled into television writing, working for the controversial Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour. He was a regular guest on the Tonight Show, but it was his exposure on Saturday Night Livethat catapulted Martin to success. In the early 1980s, he decided to leave stand-up comedy and become the film star we know today. Martin has always taken his life and the art of comedy seriously; his wonderful catchphrases (e.g., "Excuuuuse me"; "I'm a wild and crazy guy") will live on forever in our vocabulary. An intelligent biographical assessment recommended for all libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ8/07.]
—Richard A. Dickey

Kirkus Reviews
A charming memoir tracking what the great comic characterizes as his "war years."Despite gaining renown as one of Saturday Night Live's "wild and crazy guys," Martin (The Pleasure of My Company: A Novella, 2004, etc.) didn't set out in search of celebrity. From his boyhood forays onstage in the '50s through the late '70s, when he somewhat unwittingly became a huge star, he sought, above all, comic originality. Foregoing the common compromise made by young comedians that trades fresh and authentic hilarity for fame, Martin became famous on his own terms. During one period of his stand-up career, he purposefully developed an act entirely devoid of jokes, and he always approached his material with dedication and diligence. Martin offers an eloquent and exacting account of his fumbling early shticks, illuminating the type of humor, and humorists, that interested him the most. He set an unspoken deadline for himself-age 30-by which to have found success or to throw in the towel, but then abandoned it as that age came and went and he was still toiling on the road. After gigs on television shows like The Smothers Brothers and The Tonight Show, Martin's popularity steadily increased. Some of the funniest material here is delivered in an offhand manner, often in the form of photo captions or narrative asides. Martin also offers an emotional-but not overly nostalgic-account of his relationship with his father, who was a distant and disapproving figure until the end of his life, when he and his son reconciled. In all of his relationships, whether familial or romantic, Martin approaches his subjects with generosity, warmth and integrity. Heartfelt and very, very funny.
The Barnes & Noble Review
It's hard to imagine any well-known comedian alive today achieving Steve Martin status. He is an actor, comic, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director, essayist, magician, musician, and composer; he is master of the catchphrase and the balloon animal; he is sufficiently beloved and respected that no one really holds Bringing Down the House against him. Seriously, who else is there? Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell, say, have the Saturday Night Live credits and the screen time, but we're not about to see their essays in The New Yorker. Denis Leary has the writing and serious-actor chops, but show me one parent who will let their kids memorize his albums word-for-word like we did with the mega-selling A Wild and Crazy Guy. (Twenty-nine years later, I can still recite "Cat Handcuffs.") Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are without peer, but their personas don't fill arenas. (Also, no banjo. Or rope tricks.) Robin Williams: similar antic quality, but too many demons (including, but not limited to, Patch Adams). Jim Carrey: what happened? Seinfeld? Feh.

So how did Steve Martin achieve Steve Martin status? The answers can be found in the performer's autobiography, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life. "I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a by-product," Martin writes without false modesty, adding elsewhere that "despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: na?veté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do." His volume itself is modest as well: spare and unsentimental, gently self-effacing, a colossal success story told in just over 200 pages (including photos). This is partly because the book is not so much autobiography as autobiographical, limited almost entirely to the genesis and flowering of Martin's brainy-meets-loony stand-up career.

In other words, if you are dying to know what it was like to work with Eddie Murphy, you are out of luck (though you will get a soupcon of Dan Aykroyd). I should also add that if you are looking for wild-and-crazy-guy tales of late nights on the road -- sex with fans, benders with Sam Kinison -- you will also be disappointed: Martin spends his between-show downtime watching The Brady Brunch and trolling antique stores for art. And if you are expecting out-loud, fall-down laughs on every page -- this is Steve Freaking Martin, after all -- you should probably read Cruel Shoes. This book, though not without funny asides and anecdotes, is actually not all that hilarious. And as it turns out, that's part of what makes it good.

Martin's first big break came at age ten, when he landed a job selling guidebooks at Disneyland, whose opening had been announced with two-inch headlines "as though it were a victory at sea." Disneyland, he writes, was his "Versailles." It was also his earliest education. Apprenticing himself to the performers in its employ, Martin learned rope tricks, sleights of hand, sight gags, the essentials of patter. By age 15, through the kindness of the local Kiwanis, he was performing "at the hectic pace of one show every two to three months." He kept scrupulous notes on how each bit played -- "Quiet," "Big laugh!" "Relax, don't shake" -- and learned to juggle and play banjo, eventually landing a regular gig performing melodramas and olios with the troupe at Disney rival Knotts Berry Farm. There, he writes, the "soft, primordial core" of his act was formed.

Then it was on to crappy clubs in San Francisco, crappy clubs in Aspen, crappy clubs in God-knows-where -- plus philosophy studies at a series of colleges -- and a stand-up routine that was anything but. "How many people have never raised their hands before?" he asked, drawing on his fascination with logic, or lack thereof; he confessed his fetish for wearing men's underwear; he developed a habit of Pied-Pipering the audience out into the street, ad-libbing all the way. After lucking into a TV job writing for the Smothers Brothers, things snowballed from there, to Carson, to Saturday Night Live, to the 45,000-seat Nassau Coliseum, sold out -- a bit too large for the Pied Piper routine. "The lightning strike," he writes," was happening to me."

Along the way, of course, there are panic attacks, political shifts, puzzling breakups (best advice he gets: "Oh, that'll happen a lot"), and plenty insights into the really rather alien anatomy of his act. And there are lingering grudges -- resolved beautifully at the end -- against his distant and likely envious father, a failed actor turned real estate salesman who presided over silent dinners and threatened at any moment to explode into violent rage. Martin recalls, at seven or eight, the one time ever that his father suggested a game of catch: "This offer to spend time together was so rare that I was confused about what I was supposed to do," he writes. "We tossed the ball back and forth with cheerless formality." This simple, haunting image makes quite clear what prompted young Steven to, in effect, run off and join the circus.

This image also makes Martin's scattered lapses in writing craft all the more glaring by contrast. "Having cut myself off from [my father], and by association the rest of the family, I was incurring psychological debts that would come due years later in the guise of romantic misconnections and a wrong-headed quest for solitude," Martin writes clunkily, obviously taking dictation from his therapist. Elsewhere, he's sophomoric -- "The balls were bright red, and so was I" -- or in desperate need of a line edit ("The physical distance from each other had permanently broken up Nina and me").

But honestly, this awkwardness and unevenness are part of the book's charm. At heart, Steve Martin is a dweeb -- a handsome dweeb, but a dweeb. (Come on, he was the guy in high school who did magic!) As he has also made clear in interviews, he is not altogether comfortable talking about himself. His act was only superficially autobiographical, if ever; the genre does not come naturally to him in the first place. And yet here he is. He resists the urge to hide behind jokes, to do -- in the guise of self-disclosure -- well honed, perfectly polished material. (Perhaps he learned something from an appearance on Merv Griffin, where, when he launched into a bit -- "I just bought a new car. A '65 Greyhound bus" -- Griffin, interrupting, asked why on earth he would do that. "I had no prepared answer; I just stared at him," Martin recalls. "I thought, 'Oh my God, because it's a comedy routine.' ") In this book, however, Martin is telling the truth. Most of it, anyway. Even when, like comedy itself, it's not pretty. --Lynn Harris

Lynn Harris is an author, essayist, commentator, and award-winning journalist. Her most recent book is the satirical novel Death by Chick Lit. A former stand-up comic, she lives in Brooklyn.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416553656
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 100,367
  • Product dimensions: 7.74 (w) x 11.02 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Martin is one of today's most talented performers. He has had huge success as a film actor, with such credits as Cheaper by the Dozen, Father of the Bride, Roxanne, Parenthood, L.A. Story, and many others. He has won Emmys for his television writing and two Grammys for his comedy albums. In addition to his bestselling novel The Pleasure of My Company and a collection of comic pieces, Pure Drivel, he has also written a play, Picasso at the Lapin Agile. He lives in Los Angeles.

Biography

"If Woody Allen is the archetypal East Coast neurotic, Steve Martin is the ultimate West Coast wacko," Maureen Orth wrote for Newsweek in 1977. At the time, Martin was a star on the standup comedy circuit, known for his nose glasses, bunny ears and sudden attacks of "happy feet." More than 20 years later, the idea that the two are counterparts still seems apt: Like Woody Allen, Steve Martin has gone from comedy writer and performer to scriptwriter, director, playwright and book author. But while Woody Allen's transformation from angst-ridden intellectual into Bergman-inspired auteur was something fans might have anticipated, who would have guessed that the wild and crazy guy with the arrow through his head harbored a passion for philosophy, art and literature?

Growing up in Orange County, California, Martin worked afternoons, weekends and summers at Disneyland, where he learned to do magic tricks, make balloon animals and perform vaudeville routines. By the time he was 18, he was performing at Knott's Berry Farm while attending junior college. He was a bright but unenthusiastic student until a girlfriend (and her loan of Somerset Maugham's The Razor's Edge) inspired him to transfer to Long Beach State and major in philosophy. There, he delved into metaphysics, semantics and logic before concluding that he was meant for the arts. He transferred again, to the theater department at UCLA, and started performing comedy in local clubs. Truth in art, he later said, "can't be measured. You don't have to explain why, or justify anything. If it works, it works. As a performer, non sequiturs make sense, nonsense is real." (Aha -- there was a philosophical impulse behind those bunny ears.)

After a string of successful T.V. comedy-writing gigs, Martin got back into performing, and a few years later, he was landing spots on "The Tonight Show" and guest-hosting "Saturday Night Live," where he performed his famous King Tut routine. His first album, Let's Get Small, won a Grammy and was the best-selling comedy album of 1977. His first book, Cruel Shoes, was a collection of comic vignettes with titles like "How to Fold Soup" and "The Vengeful Curtain Rod." And his starring role in The Jerk kicked off a highly successful film career that includes more than 20 hit movies, including Roxanne and L.A. Story, both of which Martin wrote and directed.

Early on, critics classed Steve Martin with comedians like Martin Mull and Chevy Chase -- goofy white guys whose slapstick comedy had no overt political message, though it might have a postmodern touch of self-critique. But Martin kept scaling the heights of absurdity until he'd reached an altitude all his own. Beginning in 1994, he took two years off from movie acting to concentrate on his writing. The result was Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a surreal comedy about Picasso and Einstein that won critical and popular acclaim: "More laughs, more fun and more delight than anything currently on the New York stage," raved The New York Observer.

Though Martin went back to the movies, he also kept on writing, turning out several more plays and a series of ingeniously demented essays for The New Yorker and The New York Times, many of which are collected in book form in Pure Drivel. Then, in 2000, he surprised readers with his bestselling book Shopgirl, a tender, insightful novella about a Neiman Marcus clerk and her two suitors. These days, Martin is recognized as a "gorgeous writer capable of being at once melancholy and tart, achingly innocent and astonishingly ironic" (Elle). He's also been tapped to host ceremonies for the prestigious National Book Awards. It seems the man who once defined comedy as "acting stupid so other people can laugh" is in fact one of the smartest guys ever to emerge from L.A.

Good To Know

As a stand-up comedian on "The Tonight Show", Martin was demoted to guest-host nights for a while because Johnny Carson didn't think his act -- which could include reading from the phone book or telling jokes to four dogs onstage -- was funny.

After he became nationally famous as a comedian, Martin joked that his new wealth had allowed him to buy "some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks, got a fur sink ... let's see ... an electric dog-polisher, a gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater ... and of course I bought some dumb stuff, too." Actually, Martin is a serious art collector whose purchases include paintings and drawings by Roy Lichtenstein, Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and David Hockney.

Martin's marriage to the actress Victoria Tennant ended in 1994. But it was his subsequent breakup with actress Anne Heche that really broke his heart, he hinted in an Esquire interview. "I spent about a year recovering, and searching out myself and asking why things happened the way they did. I wrote a play about it, Patter for the Floating Lady. Oh, I shouldn't have told you that. I should have said I made it up."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Stephen Martin (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      Beverly Hills, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Waco, Texas
    1. Education:
      Long Beach State College; University of California, Los Angeles
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Born Standing Up

I DID STAND-UP COMEDY for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success. My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next. Enjoyment while performing was rare—enjoyment would have been an indulgent loss of focus that comedy cannot afford. After the shows, however, I experienced long hours of elation or misery depending on how the show went, because doing comedy alone onstage is the ego's last stand.

My decade is the seventies, with several years extending on either side. Though my general recall of the period is precise, my memory of specific shows is faint. I stood onstage, blinded by lights, looking into blackness, which made every place the same. Darkness is essential: If light is thrown on the audience, they don't laugh; I might as well have told them to sit still and be quiet. The audience necessarily remained a thing unseen except for a few front rows, where one sourpuss could send me into panic and desperation. The comedian's slang for a successful show is 'I murdered them,' which I'm sure came about because you finally realize that the audience is capable of murdering you.

Stand-up is seldom performed in ideal circumstances. Comedy's enemy is distraction, and rarely do comedians get a pristine performing environment. I worried about the sound system, ambient noise, hecklers, drunks, lighting, sudden clangs, latecomers, and loud talkers, not to mention the nagging concern 'Is this funny?' Yet the seedier the circumstances, the funnier one can be. I suppose these worries keep the mind sharp and the senses active. I can remember instantly retiming a punch line to fit around the crash of a dropped glass of wine, or raising my voice to cover a patron's ill-timed sneeze, seemingly microseconds before the interruption happened.

I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a by-product. The course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incre mental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps. I was not naturally talented—I didn't sing, dance, or act—though working around that minor detail made me inventive. I was not self-destructive, though I almost destroyed myself. In the end, I turned away from stand-up with a tired swivel of my head and never looked back, until now. A few years ago, I began researching and recalling the details of this crucial part of my professional life—which inevitably touches upon my personal life—and was reminded why I did stand-up and why I walked away.

In a sense, this book is not an autobiography but a biography, because I am writing about someone I used to know. Yes, these events are true, yet sometimes they seemed to have happened to someone else, and I often felt like a curious onlooker or someone trying to remember a dream. I ignored my stand-up career for twenty-five years, but now, having finished this memoir, I view this time with surprising warmth. One can have, it turns out, an affection for the war years.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 98 )
Rating Distribution

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(43)

4 Star

(40)

3 Star

(12)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 100 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Good fun Read

    Steve is a very complex individual, with his past relationship with his Father, his ability to create humor, his writing, his musical ability and art appreciation. This book lets you feel like you are a friend. When in public I'm sure Mr. Martin has to always "be on". The public expects this image. I felt like I got to know the real person away from that image just trying to entertain. I would recommend this book to anyone that wanted to get to know Steve Martin a very fun book to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 31, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    One funny book, from a wild and crazy guy! This autobiography c

    One funny book, from a wild and crazy guy! This autobiography covers from his childhood that formed him up until the height of his stand up career. It contains some interesting stories about life on the road when he was well known but not famous. If you are hoping for some info on the Saturday Night Live Years, they are not there but you will feel you don't need it once you reach the end.<br />
    <br />
    Review by Curt Wiser Author of BOX CUTTER KILLER.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2010

    Great Book!

    This is the best book I have read in a long time. I love reading about celebrities that had it rough in the beginning and worked so hard to get where they are now. It is awesome to know that he went from living in a van to being famous. I have always loved him and now I love him alot more. He thought so many times about giving up and having a normal life but he didnt, he went for what he wanted and succeeded. I would recommend this book to everyone!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 24, 2014

    A couple years ago I had seen something about this book and beca

    A couple years ago I had seen something about this book and became interested. I've always been a fan of Steve Martin and thought it'd be neat to learn about his life. At the time of renting this, I wasn't sure if I'd actually read it or not, because I hadn't voluntarily read a book since elementary school. But I started to read it and immediately got sucked into it. Which led me to read many more autobiographies.

    Steve Martin is one of the funniest comedians and this book is incredible. He discusses his ups and downs in life, as well as what it took for him to become who he is today. Along the journey of reading, you pick up advice about what you can do in your life to become who you want to be.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    An insightful look at a great actor and comedian. This book she

    An insightful look at a great actor and comedian.
    This book sheds light on one of the best-loved and most talented comedians of our time. Steve Martin gives fascinating glimpses into his background, career and personal life. He tells his story in a funny, entertaining manner and also shares humorous anecdotes as well as some very emotional memories.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2013

    Overnight success...

    ...is NOT what Steve Martin is writing about.

    His talents and philosphy evolved, He was dedicated and hard-working for years, honing his routine. And, not all his bits were understood.

    This is a memoir about his career and NOT an expose on his personal life--if anything, you'll become aware of how private an individual he is. (And, funny (stupid) things his fans did emulating him). If you lived through this period and know Steve's routines you'll enjoy reading this book. He lets you in on how some of his most famous bits came about, what other comics were doing at the time and what made him give up stand-up.

    I'm a big fan, I remember his appearance on the Smother's Brothers as a young writer (A day without sunshine is like....night); the article in Rolling Stone; his performance in Dallas, Texas. I memorized all the routines on his album and thought of him as cutting edge. This is a reminder of how pervasive his popularity was at the height of his career and how he changed comedy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2013

    I enjoyed it

    You have to read it for what it is: the story of how Steve Martin began--and ended--his stand-up career. Amusing!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2013

    Incomplete

    Steve lists lovers like trophys, mentions exs, nothing truly personal revealed. A fragmented tome.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2013

    Wasnt crazy about it

    meh.. it was just okay...

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Great book

    What a wonderful look into Steve Martin's life. He's always made me laugh and now I feel like I know him so much better.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 7, 2012

    rare insights

    For those that want a serious laugh(and I mean not a gut buster but a hard gut checking laugh) then read this book!!!! You will find a candid (free from resaervation ,disguise,or reservation) then this is the book for you! Remember that the greater part of comedy is truly "Tragedy"! This book will deliver nakedness of soul mostly unsought.( If you think I mean it in the litral sense put your clothes back on he"s not gonna have sex with you!)A fine and candid read. ( No sugar intended!)

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  • Posted February 29, 2012

    Outstanding

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. Steve Martin is the man!!!

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  • Posted January 23, 2010

    Genius on his feet

    Pure delight, every word. I'm just a year older than Steve, and have traveled in the periphery of his high school buddies' circles (John McEuen and others). The stories are touching, it's not a name-dropping book, it's just the recollections of a very funny mind in a very nice man who has lived a very extraordinary career. Try to catch him on tour with his banjo - it's even better than his standups, 'cause now you get standup and great bluegrass. Go Grammy, Steve.

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  • Posted May 27, 2009

    Very Insightful Autobiography of one of the most original stand-up comedians

    The story of Steve Martin's humble beginnings and early career were both insightful and enjoyable. I always loved Steve Martin as a stand-up comedian. His act and his early television specials were so original and cutting edge that they stood out from what everyone else was doing.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Liked It

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was especially impressed by the effort required to develop his routines. My only disappointment (-1 star) was that the book seemed to end rather abruptly; I had to re-read the ending before acknowledging that it had, in fact, left me hanging. Perhaps a sequel is out there somewhere. I listened to Steve's "Let's Get Small" album shortly after reading the book and enjoyed the album much more than before.<BR/><BR/>I should also confess to enjoying his book, "Shop Girl" and his play, "Picasso at the Lapin Agile." Both are 5 stars on my list.

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  • Posted December 15, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    WOW!

    One of the best books i've read in a long time. I enjoyed every facet of this book. I felt like I was witnessing everything alongside Steve Martin. I laughed. I cried. I will be reading it again.

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  • Posted November 17, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A regular's guy's quest to be a wild, crazy, *funny* guy

    Few stars as big as Steve Martin come off as a regular guy. So if Martin's carefully crafted "regular guyness" has no bearing on his true persona -- well, you won't learn otherwise from this disarming memoir of his growth from dorky teenage magician to arena-filling stand up superstar. Plain-spoken and unsentimental about his arduous path to the top (it's shocking to learn how many times he had to appear on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show before it made a difference in his comedy bookings), he writes frankly about his rocky search for comic originality and, finally, about his willingness to set aside his sky-high stand-up career when he begins to feel it getting stale. Martin also doesn't shy from addressing his father's mean-spirited disinclination to acknowledge his son's success -- but overall his book is a shamelessly entertaining look at one man's single-minded struggle for comic fame before comedy clubs were common ... or comedy on cable (not to mention cable itself) even existed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2008

    Couldn't Put it Down

    it was one of the best books that i have read in years. it keeps you so interested that you dont want to put it down. Steve Martin is truly a genius. This is a most read for any steve martin fan or fan of comedy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    Why Stand Up was my life's work

    I am always pleased when I find an author that reads his own work. In BORN STANDING UP, that is the case. Who better to tell the story than the person who wrote it! When Mr. Martin was doing stand up, I was not a big fan of his. His humor and mind didn¿t match. Yet, in reading his story, I understand where his humor came from and why. He tells us how he got started in stand up and how it developed. He tells us the story of his life right from his childhood up to today. He takes us through the learning years where his act was just beginning to the act that everyone wanted to see. He tells the listener how he became estranged from his own family and how he managed to get back together with them again. In other words, he takes us full circle through his life. He even tells us about his writing talent of which I was not aware. All in all, BORN STANDING UP is a great listen. Even if you are not a fan of Steve Martin, you can¿t help but become enthralled with his life and why and how he got where he is today.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2008

    A reviewer

    This is a must read for any fan of comedy, Steve Martin, or someone who wants an insiders perspective on what it takes to 'nake it' in show business.

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