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Born Standing Up Audiobook

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

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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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  •  
    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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    "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
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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
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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

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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 Fandre Huntsville, AL USA 09-25-12
    Andrew Fandre Huntsville, AL USA 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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    "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
  •  
    Aaron 08-14-12
    Aaron 08-14-12

    Hi, I'm Aaron - marketer, artist, lifelong learner and friend.

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    ""The best comedic autobiography ever written.""
    Would you listen to Born Standing Up again? Why?

    Absolutely. Steve Martin is a fantastic writer. He captures his thought life, the culture, the struggles and the triumphs in Born Standing Up. As Jerry Seinfeld said, 'this is the best comedic autobiography ever written.'


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

    The process of becoming a comedian and then becoming a good one. This book is about the journey, it encapsulates real life and is told with remarkable sophistication and humor.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    Every time Steve was broke and persevered anyway - he got better and better.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    A comics life. (Which I believe was the original title for the book)


    Any additional comments?

    So good you will want all of your friends to read it too.

    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
  • Narny
    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
  • Steve Parke
    6/2/16
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    "One crazy guy"

    Wonderful reading and well layered a great insight and has many touching parts. It's a great listen

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Faye T.
    3/15/16
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    "Excellent presentation. Lovely story."

    Narrated beautifully. Learnt a lot about Steve Martin. Very easy to listen to.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Schunowho
    2/28/16
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    Story
    "It has a beginning, middle but no end."

    I'm a big Steve Martin fan but this book left too many questions unanswered. He tells a bittersweet, almost melancholy story of his rise to fame. It's honest and heartfelt and tells of his fathers coldness and his rise selling programs at Disneyland an on through magic shops and the small smokey clubs where he carved out his unique "Crazy " guy persona. He reads with little emotion but it has its funny moments.
    It ends just after his parents deaths and his first film success in The Jerk.
    It's well documented that Steve has wrestled with physiological problems and these are hinted at in this book. I would have liked to have heard the behind the scenes of his big hit films and his reminisces of his fellow performers. This would have ended the book with an upbeat feel.
    Do another volume Steve with a few more laughs.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sean Clark
    12/3/15
    Overall
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    "Great insight into a funny man"

    Steve Martin wasn't just a comedian , he analysed comedy for its nuance. He worked hard, and from a most normal upbringing, became an overnight success 20 years in the making.

    Told with a familiar dry humour, it is sometimes hard to pick out the facts from a line. Which makes this book all the better for it.

    That Steve Martin narrates it is only right. So don't expect an uplifting experience, more a monotone dialogue in which Steve is the only character. And rightly so, great fun.

    You'll never feel this small again!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Mr. N. Curran
    3/5/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "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

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