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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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  •  
    Amy CANANDAIGUA, NY, United States 08-01-13
    Amy CANANDAIGUA, NY, United States 08-01-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Very entertaining"
    Where does Born Standing Up rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is a shorter book, but nonetheless very entertaining and insightful. I really loved the insight into Martin's history and how he crafted his act. I think I am left feeling surprised that he took his humor so seriously! I am a big fan of his music, so it made me happy to hear his banjo tunes in between the chapters. That was a great touch.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jessica SALINAS, CALIFORNIA, United States 07-11-13
    Jessica SALINAS, CALIFORNIA, United States 07-11-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Beautiful Story Told Beautifully"

    Steve Martin has an iconic voice and a legendary sense of humor. Hearing him say the things he wrote in this book felt deeply personal, like he was revealing himself for what he truly is. Listening to Born Standing Up made me care deeply for the author in a way that one very rarely cares for those in the public eye. It was not a distant or lofty description of an alien world. It was the true story of a journey that seemed at once romantic, intriguing and yet completely realistic. It truly is a magnificent work with a beautiful story arc that reaches climactic highs and transcendent resolutions. 10/10 will listen again at least once or twice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nicole Manning Portland, OR 07-09-13
    Nicole Manning Portland, OR 07-09-13 Member Since 2012

    author

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    "Humble, Smart, Funny"
    What made the experience of listening to Born Standing Up the most enjoyable?

    I really enjoyed hearing Mr. Martin read his story in his own voice. He's got a wry sense of humor and is an expert at timing, so the book was really enjoyable when heard instead of read.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Learning about the hard work and artistry that went into Mr. Martin's career.


    Any additional comments?

    If you are looking for celebrity "dirt," you won't find it here. Martin didn't write a "tell all" here, but then again, he's got way too much class for that. Great book!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Whitehouse, TX, United States 06-04-13
    Amazon Customer Whitehouse, TX, United States 06-04-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Great read."
    Where does Born Standing Up rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It's about as good as Rob Lowe's book.


    What did you like best about this story?

    He's very grounded, unlike many celebrities.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    When his mother died.


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

    Yes.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ted Austin, TX, United States 06-03-13
    Ted Austin, TX, United States 06-03-13 Member Since 2012

    Actor/Writer in ATX "The Most Wonderfully Ridiculous Person" -Kristen Kurtis 93.3 KGSR

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    "A Must Read for Comedians of Every ilk"
    Would you listen to Born Standing Up again? Why?

    Will and have


    What about Steve Martin’s performance did you like?

    Having read the book on the page as well, there is something added to the story by hearing Steve's own delivery. His voice is fantastic for narration and the story feels more personal.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brad Bethany, OK, United States 06-02-13
    Brad Bethany, OK, United States 06-02-13 Member Since 2011
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    "interesting"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Born Standing Up to be better than the print version?

    Yes, Steve added his emotion to the reading


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

    The struggles he had


    Have you listened to any of Steve Martin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I have not


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

    Not really


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    miles rose lake, fl, United States 04-18-13
    miles rose lake, fl, United States 04-18-13 Member Since 2013

    Say something about yourself!

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    "expected more"
    Any additional comments?

    Maybe Mr. Martin is just an actor /performer? I always thought he was a writer? I love the jerk and his earlier records. Yes the vinyl ones.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Happy Helena 04-12-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Understand his success: work, work, work."

    Martin's success in the world of comedy and show business is marked by his unrelenting perfectionism and practice, practice, practice. While this slice of his autobiography is revealing of his hard work and of his decency, one does not hear too much of his private life now (which is perfectly OK). He seems a real intellectual, artist, and person who's curious about life, which is what makes him interesting. What makes him funny we've all seen. This book goes a long way to showing what makes him tick. Liked it a lot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rena Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-31-13
    Rena Los Angeles, CA, United States 03-31-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Stayed Cracking Up"
    Would you listen to Born Standing Up again? Why?

    Yes. It was great to hear Steve talk about his stand up career and hear his philosophy about career fulfillment.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Steve... were there any others???


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

    His distinct tone. I could imagine his voice if I read the book. I am an 80s child and the earliest work of his that I have ever seen is early SNL. I'm more familiar with his movies. I have never seen his stand up and I would not have been able to properly guess the tone of the jokes if I had not listened to it.


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

    The last joke made me laugh for a good five minutes. I cried when he spoke about the death of his parents.


    Any additional comments?

    He constantly talks about what a shy person he is. He is known to be very private. I gave the story a 4 star rating because like many autobiographies that are specific to one period of a persons life you can literally feel passages where you get the feeling there is more to a story but the author is only going to tell as much as they want you to know. It is the authors right to do so but when the reader can sense the story is censored it leaves a slight feeling of dissatisfaction. I also found this in Tina Fey's "Bossypants". The only autobiography I can think of where I did not feel this was you Michael J. Fox's "Lucky Man."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Larbi Glen Ridge, NJ, USA 03-26-13
    Larbi Glen Ridge, NJ, USA 03-26-13
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    "A good but not a great listen"

    We were looking for a book we could both appreciate on a two hour drive and this was our compromise choice. The performance was very good and it held our interest both going up and coming back.

    This is not a book of celebrity gossip or shallow reflection. That is its strength. It is a serious analysis of how Steve Martin evolved into a stand up comic, how he succeeded, and why he stopped. It candidly examines his relationship with his family, how his routine developed, who and what influenced him and how he succeeded at a particular moment in time. It also examines why he stopped at the height of his comic popularity and started making films.

    Not surprisingly Steve Martin is a really effective reader and it was his performance that was the standout characteristic of the audio. Because it is a memoir it was effective to have it read by an author whose narrative skill is professional. The story is intelligent and carries you along and is very satisfying if you are looking for something to pass the time, but in the end it wasn't all that memorable.

    If you grew up during Steve Martin's early career this is likely to be more of interest to you than to younger people unless you are familiar with his very visual brand of comedy during the 70s.

    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
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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
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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
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    "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
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    "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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