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Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life | [Steve Martin]

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

In the mid-70s, 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. Born Standing Up is, in his own words, the story of "why I did stand-up and why I walked away".
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Publisher's Summary

In the mid-70s, 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. Born Standing Up is, in his own words, the story of "why I did stand-up and why I walked away".

At age 10 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.

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 60s, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the 70s.

©2007 Steve Martin; (P)2007 Simon and Schuster Inc.

What the Critics Say

2008 Grammy Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album

"Absolutely magnificent. One of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written." (Jerry Seinfeld)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Nick GRAND JUNCTION, CO, United States 02-09-15
    Nick GRAND JUNCTION, CO, United States 02-09-15 Member Since 2015
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    37
    5
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    "Fun and easy to listen to"

    I did not expect how interesting leaning about the life of a standup comedian would be. Nor did I anticipate how special it is to have Martin, the author, read the book - reciting how the jokes and quotes intended be performed in the audiobook.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken OLYMPIA, WA, United States 02-03-15
    Ken OLYMPIA, WA, United States 02-03-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Great nostalgia"

    This is Steve Martin reminiscing about his years as a standup comedian. I loved it. I'm glad he wrote it.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-27-15 Member Since 2015

    odomos

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    "Great beginning, slow finish"

    I particularly enjoyed the narration through the early years and the excitement of discovery that Steve Martin experiences.

    Towards the end though the matter was not as engaging. I'm sure there are a wealth of experiences after stardom but they are not part of this story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    TM 01-24-15
    TM 01-24-15

    TJM

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    "Short and Serious"
    Any additional comments?

    The Jerk is one of my favorite films and I've enjoyed many of his other films, but Steve Martin strikes me as a man who is somewhat embarrassed by his best work and wants to be taken much more seriously.

    In the book we learn that his father seemed uncomfortable with his son's less than cerebral visual comedy and perhaps thats why Mr. Martin seems to overcompensate in interviews and in this short autobiography. Whilst there is much of interest for those looking for an inside view of the world of stand-up comedy, there is also much dry and serious analysis of how philosophy, art and cultural forces informed the many average jokes he proceeds to recite (out of character).

    To me Steve Martin was funny mostly for the characters he created and his physical performance. Not for his word-play, stories, or zingers.

    Not once did I guffaw, nor even chortle. This is not a funny book. Extracting jokes from their context and discussing them, sap all of the magic and joy from them.

    I did smile once in a while reflecting on the comedy-acting masterpieces captured in The Jerk and on SNL. But it seems Mr. Martin is determined to demonstrate his intellectual chops rather than entertain his readers.

    I still love him for giving me some of the funniest moments of movie/television magic I have known.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 12-31-14
    John 12-31-14 Member Since 2014
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    ":)"

    Great story behind Steve Martin's rise to fame. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Would recommend it for anyone who is a fan of his material.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Megawampum Seattle 11-18-14
    Megawampum Seattle 11-18-14 Member Since 2013

    History Lover, Ancestry Fanatic, DIYer

    ratings
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    10
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    "Don't Expect Much Laughter"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    Wish it covered more of his career after he became famous


    Any additional comments?

    An interesting story, but not a particularly funny tale. You won't hear Steve Martin doing many funny voices, routines, etc. Very dry telling of the beginnings of his career in stand-up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo E. St Clair Milwaukee, WI United States 10-14-14
    Jo E. St Clair Milwaukee, WI United States 10-14-14 Member Since 2012

    Jo

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    "Love/Hate"
    What made the experience of listening to Born Standing Up the most enjoyable?

    I have followed Steve Martin since the King Tut days. I am in love with him. I know that Mr. Martin is shy and VERY smart. His fancy words tend to take away from the story. I think he should stick to writing plays. It's a much better genre for his talent.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joel Saltzman San Diego, CA 10-08-14
    Joel Saltzman San Diego, CA 10-08-14

    Shake That Brain!

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    "Just ...wonderful!"
    What did you love best about Born Standing Up?

    It was like Steve Martin came over to the house, sat down, and told me the story of his stand up years.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Born Standing Up?

    I can't decide: either the beginning, the middle, or the end.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I did have an extreme reaction. Fortunately, my dermatologist was able to help.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ladyface 09-27-14
    Ladyface 09-27-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Intelligent, entertaining, engaging"
    Would you listen to Born Standing Up again? Why?

    Yes. I love Steve Martin's unique voice. "Born Standing Up" is an incredibly detailed account of his early career on the stand up circuit. Boyfriend found it to be too "name droppy" but I took it to be a historical account of the beginning of stand up comedy as its own art form and resource for anyone interested in starting out in the industry.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes and we did (on a road trip).


    Any additional comments?

    Even in non-comic forms he's a very talented writer.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Bosque Farms, NM, United States 06-04-14
    Amazon Customer Bosque Farms, NM, United States 06-04-14
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    "Read not Narrated - who would have thought?"
    Would you try another book from Steve Martin and/or Steve Martin?

    I've read much written by Steve Martin, but this was the first time I bought an audio book of his, so I was excited that he was also narrating. However, it didn't take long for disappointment to set in. After having listened to George Carlin, Woody Allen, Neil Gaiman and others narrate their own works, I had high hopes for Martin to narrate his own story. His tone was flat and matter-of-fact; didn't stir up empathy for him. I would have gotten more out of it having read it than listening to it. So whereas I would buy another book by Martin, I wouldn't buy an audio book with his narration. His narration made what would have been an interesting memoir rather boring.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I would have hired a professional narrator. The story is his own - can't improve on that.


    Any additional comments?

    I was looking to engage with an actor whom I've enjoyed since growing up in the 70s, but couldn't get past the feeling that he wasn't too interested in his own text. I wasn't expecting a "wild and crazy guy" with a voice out of The Jerk, but at least the voice that made such movies as Roxanne and LA Story entertaining and moving.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Alistair
    London, United Kingdom
    5/13/11
    Overall
    "Interesting insight into a great comedian"

    Steve Martin's narration is wonderfully clear and insightful, unlike many of his contemporaries he is able to recall the early days of Saturday Night Live and the 70's stand-up seen brilliantly. It is a useful look into the formation of his career and how he struggled early on. I would have preferred it to be a little longer as it’s much more interesting than many celebrity auto-biographies.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • john keegan
    Glasgow, Strathclyde United Kingdom
    7/9/13
    Overall
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    "Funny Guy!"
    Would you try another book written by Steve Martin or narrated by Steve Martin?

    Yes, yes, yes. This is the first audiobook I have heard by Steve Martin and thoroughly enjoyed. It's fantastic hearing the author tell his thoughts and jokes.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Great book and a story that brings you up to date.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    I wouldn't say I enjoyed one chapter or scene more than another, I did however love hearing how the conception of some of his catchphrases came into being.


    Was Born Standing Up worth the listening time?

    The book was a very open and honest account of his life, a must buy if you like Steve Martin, his work and comedy. My only downside was I felt it was too short.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • John
    Hare Hatch, United Kingdom
    1/26/12
    Overall
    "Well worth your time"

    It's a bit light on the humour but all the same, it's very interesting. His relationship with his parents, particularly his father comes as a surprise. He goes into detail about his route into the business, the highs and lows, the loneliness, and it's very revealing. Very well written and Steve reads it in a very matter of fact way - one that will stay with you long after you've read it.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Marvin
    Lincoln, United Kingdom
    6/17/11
    Overall
    "Tears of a clown."

    I heard Scottish comedian Susan Calman recommend this book but having quite a mixed opinion of Steve Martin I thought it would just be a few hours of him massaging his own ego.

    However I admit to being very wrong and understood Ms. Calman's reason for recommending it. This honest and sometimes very sad memoir of Steve Martin is a very memorable and surprising listen. Yes, there is plenty of humour but it clearly shows the road to fame has been a hard journey for the star and he readily admits to his own faults. At the end of it my opinion had been altered somewhat.

    I would recommend this. It may not change your opinion of Steve Martin but it is an enlightening listen from the author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. N. Curran
    3/5/15
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Brilliant"

    The best read autobiography I've heard. Brilliantly told story of his rise to fame and the start middle ant then end of his stand up comedy career. This is well worth reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • JamieD87
    12/2/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great insight into the life of a great performer"
    If you could sum up Born Standing Up in three words, what would they be?

    Insightful. Entertaining. Comical.


    What other book might you compare Born Standing Up to, and why?

    None I can think of.


    What does Steve Martin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

    His voice reading his story made it all the more real. It's his story after all so his tone changes naturally when it needs to, giving the book an extra dimension of reality as well as entertainment.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Mostly the part when talking about his relationship with his father. So honest and open about such an intimate subject. Fair play to him.


    Any additional comments?

    I liked the way he gave insight into the comedy circuit. I've kinda always wondered what it was like but never had the cojones to actually go try stand up. It's was a great listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • The Reluctant Hermit
    Scotland
    11/3/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "excellent and entertaining"

    I found this book to be well written, well read and a very interesting insight into the life of a clever and artistic man. Very entertaining. I would listen to it again in the future and there are not many books I would say that of.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Richard
    Whitstable, United Kingdom
    8/4/11
    Overall
    "Not what i expected."

    I love Steve Martin as a comic, but after listening to this I am not so much a fan anymore. It does seem to be true that a comic has a difficult life, and he seems to have had his fair share of obsticles to overcome in his life. Not one I would recommend.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful

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