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.
2008 Grammy Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album
"Absolutely magnificent. One of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written." (Jerry Seinfeld)
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.
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.
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.
History Lover, Ancestry Fanatic, DIYer
Wish it covered more of his career after he became famous
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.
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.
Shake That Brain!
It was like Steve Martin came over to the house, sat down, and told me the story of his stand up years.
I can't decide: either the beginning, the middle, or the end.
I did have an extreme reaction. Fortunately, my dermatologist was able to help.
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.
Yes and we did (on a road trip).
Even in non-comic forms he's a very talented writer.
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.
I would have hired a professional narrator. The story is his own - can't improve on that.
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.
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