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Born Standing Up

A Comic's Life
Narrated by: Steve Martin
Length: 4 hrs and 2 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (11,064 ratings)

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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

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Story

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  • 3 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • Coconut Creek, FL, USA
  • 11-30-07

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!

105 of 112 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

42 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

36 of 41 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • Long Beach, CA, United States
  • 05-26-08

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.

23 of 26 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

16 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

16 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

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.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A delighful look behind the genius of Steve Martin

This is a well written and well read. It is heartfelt and insightful as to how a man can hone his craft.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alistair
  • 05-13-11

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • john keegan
  • 07-09-13

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Narny
  • 06-17-11

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Simon
  • 07-19-19

best audio book I've listened to

well read and very insightful. I wasn't a massive Steve Martin fan but listened to the book on a recommendation. great delivery and a great story. feel like a second book about his film career is coming, if so I'll be all over it

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Karl
  • 02-24-19

Good would recommend

Great insight into standup in the late 60s and 70s.Looking forward to a full biography of Steve Martin.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Itchyhorse
  • 02-17-19

Earned my respect now I've heard his story...

Supreme. A great story about how an unlikely kid made good. I'm not a raging SM fan, but he has earned my respect now I've heard his story. I now recognise SM as a very smart man - There's an observation somewhere in the book that says Steve was essentially making fun of comedy with his stand-up act. That ain't easy to get away with, but he absolutely did! The story ends as he ends his stand-up career and begins making movies. I can only hope for the next instalment.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • KA ALVAREZ AGUILAR
  • 02-05-19

excellent

loved this all the way through. narration by Steve martini superb I strongly recommended definitely

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • eog
  • 12-20-18

An enjoyable memoir

This short listen gives a great insight into the dedication and craft required for steve to get to the very top of his profession, and how his family, mental health and relationships influenced his career. Throughout Steve gives snippets of his old act over the years with characteristic deadpan delivery, its also intespersed with some of his banjo playing, which is a nice touch and adds some emphasis on occasion.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Carlton
  • 09-05-18

It's very good.

Really enjoyed this. Very funny chap. It's way too short though. Please do another! Cheers.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Russell LEAK
  • 07-04-18

Brilliant

Brilliant if you like comedy brilliant if you don’t very interesting and surprising memoir that had me gripped the whole way through. I have so much more respect for this guy having read this book.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • MR PETER A RICHARDS
  • 07-04-19

Dull, lifeless reading from a great performer.

The delivery from Martin was dull and lifeless for nearly the whole book. For such a great performer this was a real shame. The book is very short, some interesting anecdotes and a look behind the curtain, but ultimately not very deep and delivered in what feels like a disinterested way.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mikerhodes
  • 04-04-19

Utterly wonderful

What a bloody lovely guy. The pain and pleasure of performing are vividly shared. A great insight into a masterful and shy comedian. Loved every bit

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Leigh
  • 12-23-18

Not particularly insightful or entertaining

There are better books to spend your time with. Steve Martin admits himself that he not a great interview or comfortable with sharing. I respect that, but it doesn't make for a great book.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Rosie
  • 11-30-18

A beautiful gathering of a moments across a career

I was born in 1990, so I knew Steve's face only from Father of the Bride and as a generally-famous-person-but-I'm-not-sure-what-for. This book was recommended to me and when I read anything autobiographical, I always check for the audiobook. Happily, I found this. It was a wonderful listen with moments of painful reality and slow tragedy. I learned much about him just by how he presented his life. I can imagine this was difficult but necessary to write - the catharsis and nostalgia, though subtle, are ever present throughout. Listening to it, you'll see a very human story behind the glamour of an "overnight success" and the true cost of that success. You'll see decades pass by in chapters and you'll laugh and you'll want to cry but can't quite. Like his comedy, there are no punch lines, just notions that follow you around for a few days. He writes well and I felt as if I were in my own version of that stage or that town.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me is the stark difference between the person on stage/camera and the person who wrote these words. I had never watched any of his work until partway through listening to the book when I dug around for the videos of him and Johnny Carson and on SNL. In a corner of YouTube, I found a very old and jumpy recording of Steve with Robin Williams. I know there is a lesson there - something I am seeing but can't quite write. How often we think that a person is only what we perceive them to be, even if we've only seen a sliver of their life in the contrived world of stage or film.
I am glad that this book paved the way to show me his work. I have The Jerk, The Three Amigos, and his Netflix special all queued up.
But I am grateful that I came to the book first.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • MR Geoff Bowen
  • 06-06-18

tiny on laughs

Had Steve put a bit more effort into this it would have been better. Love to see a revision

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 06-14-17

Great stuff.

An absolutely wonderful insight into Steve's personal life and career for somebody who never gave him a second thought and only knew him as the 'Cheaper by the Dozen guy'.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-05-17

noooiiice book <br />

I need 15 words to submit my review of the book so apple car box stapler

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kindle Customer
  • 09-24-16

A funny and original guy

I love Steve Martin's comedy and this is such an interesting story. Unfortunately, audible books are like a lullaby for me, so I miss bits here and there throughout. Think I had better stick to written word.
Would recommend this book tho' to others who delight in his offbeat wit, if they don't have my annoying problem.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Sarah
  • 09-09-16

Maybe not what you think, but worth it

If you could sum up Born Standing Up in three words, what would they be?

More dry than I was anticipating but well worth it if you're a steve Martin fan

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Dlutchy
  • 05-04-16

Steve Martin interesting

Enjoyed an autobiography that didn't waffle on. Always interesting to see what drives entertainers to their work.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful