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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
    4,566
  • 4 Stars
    2,706
  • 3 Stars
    1,069
  • 2 Stars
    189
  • 1 Stars
    53

Performance

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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    4,603
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    1,445
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    499
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    108
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    34

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    3,634
  • 4 Stars
    1,988
  • 3 Stars
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    158
  • 1 Stars
    38
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  • Overall
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Slow to start, string finish

Enjoyed the last few chapters when Steve starts to really open up, first half is a bit boring.

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I Trusted Comedians

What did you like best about Born Standing Up? What did you like least?

I was really excited to specifically listen to this book because so many comedians I like recommended it. I heard that it was hilarious and captivating because it was read by Steve Martin himself. So when I started the book I had high expectations for some laughs. I found it to be the opposite. Although it was well written Steve read in a monotonous and depressing tone the entire time. I zoned in and out at points because it was so boring, this is not something I usually do especially if I pay for an audio book. He went go over very minute details of his first jobs before he was famous thoroughly and skipped over big interest things like SNL and his movies.

Would you recommend Born Standing Up to your friends? Why or why not?

No.

What three words best describe Steve Martin’s voice?

Monotonous, Slow, Lethargic

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Listen to it.

You won't be disappointed. Nothing makes you appreciate an artist more than understanding their story of their struggle.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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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