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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

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  • Overall
  • Blashy
  • Québec, Canada
  • 02-16-09

The biography of his career as a Stand Up comic.

So a 6 hour listen was plenty and having Steve read it was fantastic.

Great book on the life of stand up comedy and if you're a Steve Martin fan, the book is a must.

5 of 9 people found this review helpful

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I truly enjoyed listening to this book,
Steve hit on many things we all go through in life.
We all have struggles and those hard times make us the person we are. Thank you Steve

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as good as his stand up

i have never "got" Steve's humor. this book explains why. while.we have soo much in common - being private, being serious, and having an adoration for logic - i have never found Steve's work as being funny.
with that, his reading of this was just an bland. far too serious, and almost monotone. i do appreciate that Steve recorded it himself. however, the whole thing seems more of a journal reading than anything anyone wou ld really want to read or hear. ...that sounds alot meaner than intended. ...

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If you have anything unresolved, clear it up now...

"Born Standing Up" does the job of allowing me to see myself more clearly, which I believe is the highest and best achievement for any narrative.
Accidentally or on purpose, Mr Steve Martin's memoir speaks for and about the entire baby boom generation. (I dare say we are meant to wonder which!) I keep coming back to one idea: these amazing artists made it look so easy to be so great, yet they practiced like ('tunnel-vision[ed]') monks, and with startlingly clear self-awareness. The example of seeing his chances in the audition process amazes me... To have enough experience that the stage fright did not distract him from this insight... Jay Leno described playing conservative Christian audiences similarly... As an experiment! That is the language of the very VERY experienced...like The Beatles years in Germany.
Show runners who took chances on performers was another "disruptive" practice that produced this amazing generation of performers.
I was happily surprised to hear some actual history in here too. Odd stuff but "real" to me. The mid-century pronunciations of 'Knot's BERRY farm' and 'San RaFELL' help to transport us back to the day Disneyland opened. I bet this book will give rise to many more studies of that transitional period -- particularly as the baby boomers become "survivors" to the Millennials, and thus their "discovery."
So many themes from current studies of talent and success are at once advanced and supported that I feel grateful to have stumbled upon Mr Steve Martin's candid look back ...and maybe even more grateful that he read it himself. Back then, I felt liberated watching him on TV, kinda like he was my big brother. With Steve himself narrating (and a little magical thinking) I actually felt a little bit of "closure" myself. (Heck I even finally understood Steve's bit in The Five Timers Club, on SNL, welcoming Tom Hanks.) Thanks man!

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Disappointing

What didn’t you like about Steve Martin’s performance?

Technically, it is flawless: he pronounces everything well, and the pacing is good. But, and this is a big 'but': his voice is plain monotonous.

Being an accomplished entertainer, especially in stand-up, I expected his delivery to be far more lively. I could not discern his happy experiences from his bad ones, unless the content itself made that clear. I very much prefer audiobooks performed by their authors for the simple reason that only they can adequately transport the emotions connected to the words. This, unfortunately, lands flat on its face here.

It's like he's just reading the words of someone he does not care about the least. I really wanted to hear his story, but I found my mind wandering off to more exciting things, several times. Exciting as in small print on a chocolate bar.

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

I think, the content itself is indeed quite interesting. That makes this so much of a disappointment.

Any additional comments?

I'm returning this, but I'll happily try again if and when there's a new recording that matches the intonation to the content.

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It's OK

He's much funnier in the movies and on stage. His ability to write a book is okay but that's all

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Nice look in to Mr Martin's life

I enjoyed the book and gave me a good look into how success really happens.

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A lot I didn't know inside this one

I learned a lot about Steve Martin I did not know and confirmed some things I thought I knew. It's always fun and interesting to me to listen and learn more about the journey successful people have traveled to achieve that success. I was not disappointed with this one and having it read by the author is always a plus. You will enjoy this one.

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Poignant, touching and swarthy

Mr. Martin, your swarth riveted my conscience from beginning to end. Thank you for everything!

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Steve has insight without being too insightful .

I just love that he is smart enough not to pander or be too much of an obnoxious smarty pants. A joy to listen to his words in his voice. Many random smiles as I listened.