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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.

Critic Reviews

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 Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    4,424
  • 4 Stars
    2,659
  • 3 Stars
    1,048
  • 2 Stars
    182
  • 1 Stars
    52

Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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    4,456
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    1,417
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    493
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    105
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    30

Story

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
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  • 3 Stars
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    156
  • 1 Stars
    37
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  • Overall
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  • Story

Real. Authentic. Touching.

Thank you Steve Martin for having the courage to be vulnerable. I completely related to your relationship with Glen. I loved the book. And I love you.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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just OK but still entertaining

let me start by saying that I did enjoy the book. But was expecting a little bit more. The wording of the stories were all very flowery so it made it feel like it was hiding the fact that not a lot was covered in the book. Where was all of the behind the scenes from Saturday Night Live? More details about his time in the movies? Would have loved to hear more. I guess this leaves room for him to write another book.

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  • Laurie
  • Florence, KY, United States
  • 09-27-15

Not wild or crazy

If you choose this book expecting to fall on the floor with laughter, well, you might be disappointed. Steve Martin writes about his stand up years with a lot of insight, but the book is much more introspective than I would have expected. When he describes what his life was like at the height of his fame, well, let's just say I wouldn't want that. It's a nice listen, just not a particularly funny one.

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Heartfelt and Talented, but Not Wildly Unusual

Let it be known: I find Steve Martin to be an innovative and unique comedian and entertainer. You only get folks like him once or twice in a generation.

I was expecting this book to have some mindblowing insights about his rise to fame, with deep wisdom gained from the ensuing disillusionment. Frankly, there wasn't a lot of that. There was a lot of what you expect: started small, worked hard, made it big, now reflects. Ironically, "what you expect" was never in Martin's stand-up (the book does explain the roots of his unpredictability).

The one-liners and rehashed bits from Martin's early days are just great (publisher gets a star for their choice of narrator). The banjo interludes (played by Martin, of course) give the book a genuine touch. His path-crossings with other names from the '70s (Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, etc.) are cool. The last chapter is lovely--that chapter gets 5 stars.

This review is no takeaway from Martin's career or work--it just the book wound up being nothing more than a quick, pleasant summer read for me. If you're a Steve Martin fan, it's worth the time. Thanks Mr. Martin for sharing your story.

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  • Juan
  • New Orleans, LA, United States
  • 07-23-15

Not very intimate but that is Steve

What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

Well Steve could have been more revealing about himself

Would you ever listen to anything by Steve Martin again?

Probably not

What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

His voice is smooth and his delivery excellent.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Yes it did have some details about delivering comedy and did tell some details about what it is like about developing a comedy act. However it is lacks too much detail. Not too much introspection.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Great (auto)biography.

I was unable to stop listening to the audio book read by the author. His beginnings were different than I imagined. He started working at age ten and never stopped. I understand now why he no longer does standup. I miss his wild and crazy humor, and applaud his movies. Bowfinger is my favorite.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Thank you, Steve.

Nice to know more about one of my favorite people. Steve Martin shares bits of his life and early career as graciously as if he were my host and I, the listener, was his guest. I saw Steve perform on stage in the mid 1970's. His show was outstanding. Steve is a treasure. I hope he realizes how much joy he has brought into the lives of others.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Enjoyable and unexpected

Would you consider the audio edition of Born Standing Up to be better than the print version?

Because Steve Martin read it himself, its like going to a stand up comedy show when he reads his own stuff.

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

I enjoyed the whole book, the way he talks about his father is the most remember-able. Only because the way he talks about him, you can tell by the inflection in his voice that the feelings run deep there.

What about Steve Martin’s performance did you like?

I really liked it. It wasnt what I expected though. With Tina and Amy's books, I was laughing at what they were saying. But with Steve, it was so calm, like sitting down with a friend, listening to him tell me his life story. It was funny to me, but i connected to him on a different level that really makes me want to relisten to his book.

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

I've learned to pace myself

Any additional comments?

I would like him to write more books and read more! I really like his voice!

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A Gorgeous and Melancholy Reflection on Entertaining

Steve Martin is a lyrical writer whose reflections on both his Southern California childhood and magic-infused early days of standup transcend the genre of "comedy autobiography" to reach a mystical, albeit heartbreaking meditation on death and, you might say, joy. Read with a forlorn and at times hilarious tone, he digs deep into his past as a new-comedy pioneer and the wounds of his disapproving father as he goes from joke-magician to television writer to the biggest live comedy act in history. Too, he explores how the bits got stale, and, as he so aptly describes, "when comedy stopped being fun and got serious," and he left the world of live performance for the ease of film. An essential read for any fan of Martin, and, for those with a cursory interest in entertainment and the history of television. "Born Standing Up", like Steve Martin, is wise, insightful, hilarious, and often devastatingly sad.

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Phenomenal

Poetic, candid, silly...absolutely brilliant. Steve Martin is a genius of all sorts. His descriptions are so vivid and effective that I really felt viscerally able to recall times before I was born. I so appreciate this window into his life.