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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

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  •  
    Museum Quality 11-04-12 Member Since 2012

    300 books in 20 months.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Sincere,honest and funny."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Born Standing Up to be better than the print version?

    Yes, and hearing from the author himself is always more insightful.


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

    I think it was the fact that Steve Martin held in there and never gave up.


    What about Steve Martin’s performance did you like?

    Not too funny and not too serious but perfectly honest.


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

    Reconciliation with his father who frowned on his work even after great success.


    Any additional comments?

    Surprising to find out how isolating it was to be one of the most popular comedians of all time. Did not want the book to end.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Derek ALPHARETTA, GA, United States 11-01-12
    Derek ALPHARETTA, GA, United States 11-01-12
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    "Excellent"
    If you could sum up Born Standing Up in three words, what would they be?

    Incredible, inspiring and educational.


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

    Learning about martins life and having him tell you personally.


    What about Steve Martin’s performance did you like?

    Just an all around great voice.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 10-29-12
    David United States 10-29-12 Member Since 2015

    ShoutingMan

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    59
    7
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    "Steve Martin's rise to comedy fame"
    If you could sum up Born Standing Up in three words, what would they be?

    memoir, reflection, serious


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    This is a reflection by Steve Martin on his path to fame. It focuses on the 60's and 70's, and practically races through his best-known stand-up pieces: a passing mention of arrow-through-the-head, and nothing on 'king tut'.

    As such, it's an interesting story, reflections on the hard work and vagaries involved in a great career. But it's also about history; most of it before my time so it felt dusty in ways.

    It's not a funny book; his reading even diminishes some of the humor of the original bits he repeats.

    But it's tight. It's short in the best possible way: Martin tells the story he wants to tell, and doesn't waste words padding to some extra length. It's a good 4 hours. And it's a good reminder that the best make it look effortless because they spend countless hours unseen honing their work to perfection.


    What three words best describe Steve Martin’s performance?

    Serious


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Queensbury, NY, United States 10-11-12
    Susan Queensbury, NY, United States 10-11-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Different than I thought it would be"
    Any additional comments?

    It was interesting how his life came about and how Steve's family life was like. He is very candid and you would never think this was the way it was.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    helen cashel, Ireland 10-09-12
    helen cashel, Ireland 10-09-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Dissapointing"

    This was just OK - not really good value for money and quite short. I had expected it to be funnier.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    N. Amo 10-08-12
    N. Amo 10-08-12
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    "That explains it!"
    Any additional comments?

    If you remember Steve's crazy stand up routine, and can recall how really 'unusual' it was for its time, you'll love this story. It's not an accounting of his full career, although it does begin when he was a kid and bring us all the way through to his start in the movies. It really focuses on his career as a stand up comedian. If you lived through the early days of his Johnny Carson appearences and his bow and arrow, white suit, wild and crazy, 'excuuusssse me' routines, then you'll love hearing directly from Steve about how he came up with all of that. More importantly, you'll hear what he thought about all that was going on. From years doing standup on the road in bars and college campuses to his astonishment that tens ouf thousands packed stadiums to see him, he shares his inner thinking and observations. I really enjoyed understanding this from his viewpoint.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Grant Torrance, CA, United States 10-01-12
    Grant Torrance, CA, United States 10-01-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Stopped early"
    If you could sum up Born Standing Up in three words, what would they be?

    I enjoyed listening but he stops as his stand up career ends. I wanted to hear more about his movies and life after stand-up. Still brought a smile to my face often.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Portlaoise, Ireland 09-25-12
    Thomas Portlaoise, Ireland 09-25-12 Member Since 2011

    Amscutellata

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Insights into the life of a comic"

    I enjoyed listening to Steve and how he became a comic and the ups and downs of a comedian's life. As to be expected there are a few laughs in the story as well!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew Huntsville, AL, United States 09-25-12
    Andrew Huntsville, AL, United States 09-25-12 Member Since 2013
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    "What a life, what a performance!"
    Where does Born Standing Up rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top listen in my Audible History


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

    Bossypants by Tina Fey. Both are autobiographical and contain some of their classic bits. Both have a drive for perfection in their comedy. Both have pursued comedy and performance their whole lives. They work hard on their comedy and it shows. Steve Martin seems much more original and hardcore. Tina is more of a collaborator, an improviser. Martin is a craftsman, honing and working on his comedy alone. He brings you into his mind, his cerebral process, taking your expectations and tweaking them. He talks about a comedian who had a visual cue that would let the audience know when to laugh. One of his jokes was so garbled it came across as gibberish. But he used his visual cue and he got a laugh. He takes this knowledge and structures one of his shows as all build up, but no release. He won't let the audience catch up on the joke because he doesn't do a visual or audible cue that lets you know when to laugh. So the audience is often laughing at something that happened minutes ago and he's moved on several jokes, so the laughter is coming in this weirdly structured stream. That's how cool he is, he can describe his process so accurately, that someone without any performance experience can get a thrill like he must have had. Him describing his fame how it snowballed, how it can make you incredibly lonely and isolated. How he was unfairly treated by the critics, how he worked his contracts, playing enormous crowds even though he was completely drained and unhappy.


    Which character – as performed by Steve Martin – was your favorite?

    Steve Martin. His standup, his inflections and his rhythm are perfect. He is a master comedian. To hear him describe a joke then tell it and it still remains funny... that's genius. I can't imagine anyone else doing his bits, that's how perfect his performance is. He also lets you in to his life in poignant touching ways. He's not maudlin or sappy, he has a matter of fact"ness" that comes across very genuine and honest.


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

    Yes, and I did. I may have dozed off in some parts, but I came back to them later in a second listen.


    Any additional comments?

    I wanted more. I know that's the adage of comedy and performance. Steve is a master, I wanted more of Steve's life and his recollections. I feel he has said all he wants to say on the subject, but I still want more. In one of his earlier shows, held in a classroom, there wasn't a backstage. So when he was finished, he packed up his stuff and told everyone to go home. They didn't. They followed him out of the hall, into the street and finally into an empty swimming pool, where he finally crowd surfed across them. I'm there, I'm in the swimming pool, waiting for just one more gag, one more story, one more of his famous lines, if he doesn't like it, well EXCUUUUUUSSEEE MEEEEE

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Evans Head, Australia 09-05-12
    John Evans Head, Australia 09-05-12
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    3
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    "Steve Martin at His Best"
    If you could sum up Born Standing Up in three words, what would they be?

    A great insight


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Steve Martin obviously because he provided a great insight into his life and also the world of stand up comedy.


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

    It was great to hear the story from him because he provided a real sense of the issues he went through.


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

    Yes, but couldn't due to driving distances when listening.


    Any additional comments?

    Would recommend it to anyone who wanted either an insight to Steve Martin or what it takes to succeed in stand up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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