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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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  •  
    Andrew Coconut Creek, FL, USA 11-30-07
    Andrew Coconut Creek, FL, USA 11-30-07
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    "Fantastic"

    Get this audiobook. It’s one of the best show biz biographies I have ever seen. Definitely the best one that ever mentioned Dariel Fitzke’s Showmanship for Magicians. Actor/comedian/writer/art collector/banjo picker/magician Steve Martin details his journey from aspiring young magician to the biggest comedian of all time (he was the first comedian to sell out 45,000 seat venues).

    You’ll find out that his overnight success took ten years and only then happened when he decided to go his own path. Despite the frequent bookings on the Tonight Show, fame and headliner status eluded him for a long time. He’d been demoted to performing only on guest host nights for a long period because Johnny wasn’t in to his act. When he slowly found his way, Johnny became his biggest fan.

    I sat down with this book to just read a chapter and couldn’t put it down. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I’m getting the audiobook next. It’s an amazing story of how a performer struggled and grew in his art. It’s the best analysis I’ve ever read of what it takes to be an original and how hard it can be to get acceptance for that.

    I could go on about this book, but you should really just be reading the book. So I’ll end this right here: Go get this audiobook!

    52 of 54 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Johnson Greenville, SC 06-18-08
    J. Johnson Greenville, SC 06-18-08 Member Since 2008
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    "Great for a first timer!"

    This was my first Audible Audiobook, and I was curious as to whether I would enjoy it or not. I loved it! Steve does a great job narrating the book himself and it keeps you entertained the whole time. I like books that give you an inside look to worlds you wouldn't normally get to see, and that's exactly what this book does. Highly Recommended.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Edward ny, NY, USA 03-01-09
    Edward ny, NY, USA 03-01-09
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    "Well Written and Narrated"

    I have actually listened to this several times. It is fairly short, but a well written account of the evolution of his act. It is hard to imagine the years that went into editing out the bad material and fine tuning the good to make Steve Martin one of the funniest comics. It seems to get funniest at the end, like his act, insightfully spanning a few decades. It is also fun to hear his familiar voice reading the story of his professional life.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan Long Beach, CA, United States 05-26-08
    Susan Long Beach, CA, United States 05-26-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Loved it!"

    What a charming genuine affable guy. Loved the book. My only problem with this book is that it isn't long enough. I wanted more. I'll wait for his second memoir.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    S. Casey Fort Worth, Tx 07-04-08
    S. Casey Fort Worth, Tx 07-04-08 Member Since 2004
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    "Excellent!"

    This is an excellent book and Steve Martin's narration makes you feel like you're in his living room listening to him tell his story to you personally. I loved it!

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela United States 12-20-07
    Pamela United States 12-20-07 Member Since 2004

    Sure, I'd love to hear your story....

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    "A stand-out book"

    I've always liked Steve Martin, but it wasn't until I started to read his books that I can say I LOVE Steve Martin. And this book, more than even the fiction he's written, reminds me of what a great talent he is.

    I'm not a celebrity watcher so I was hesitant about this one. I finally decided I'd try it because I thought it might be sort of funny. Yes, there's humor but this much more about an era. I was zapped right back to my adolescence and early adulthood spent watching Saturday Night Live and learning to do the "Tut" walk. It's a great book if you get the references (does everybody remember the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band?) but even if you don't it's a revelation on how comedians are created (or create themselves) from their circumstances. Seldom are we priviledged enough to really get into someone else's head, but you'll want to crawl inside this one and enjoy looking around. Loved it.

    12 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Billy Denville, NJ USA 01-09-10
    Billy Denville, NJ USA 01-09-10 Member Since 2010

    Billy

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    "Really good"

    I have so much respect for this man after having read (listened to) this book. When anyone works as hard as he did, you have to admire them. This is not a guy who fell into his career, he is someone who worked and worked to get to where he is. And, he reads it which is very entertaining. I highly recommend this book.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 07-13-09
    Christopher SOMERS, MT, United States 07-13-09 Member Since 2006
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    "Why he walked away"

    Quite a memoir from the once "wild & crazy guy"! Steve dated Stormie Omartian? (GASP! LOL)

    The flat tone may turn some listeners off, but Steve Martin wisely chose it to emphasize just why he walked away from stand-up comedy after all the work he put into making it.

    Steve Martin has a great reading voice, and I think he has another career ready when he decides to walk away from acting.

    Highly recommended!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    ChuckDPhoto Boulder, CO USA 12-04-07
    ChuckDPhoto Boulder, CO USA 12-04-07 Member Since 2006
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    "Steve Martin is brilliant"

    I had never realized how innovative Steve Martin's humor was. I had only enjoyed it immensely since first experiencing it on SNL and his standup albums. He reads in a rather flat voice but it is Steve himself and that makes it so special. I have trouble imagining reading the book when I can hear it in his own voice. Insightful and revealing. Even touching.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Utah 06-26-13
    Amazon Customer Utah 06-26-13 Member Since 2009

    tired teacher

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    "Stands up well"

    I have always been a fan of Steve Martin. To me, a comedian/actor has to strike a balance between being able to be incredibly funny and yet have the ability to be serious when appropriate. Steve Martin found that balance. Many of his movies are on my all-time faves list, but I also enjoy his standup routines. I think he is a genuine person, and that reaches out to me. So it isn't surprising that I enjoyed reading about his life. No, this is not a literary masterpiece, but as far as memoirs, it is fairly well written, entertaining and engaging.

    Martin reads his own memoir, and does a fine job of it. He is, after all, an entertainer.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 144 results PREVIOUS1215NEXT
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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
  • The Reluctant Hermit
    Scotland
    11/3/13
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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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