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Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life Paperback – 7 Jul 2008

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Paperback, 7 Jul 2008
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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (7 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847391486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847391483
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 110,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Martin is one of today's most talented performers. His huge successes as a film actor include such credits as ROXANNE, FATHER OF THE BRIDE, PARENTHOOD and THE SPANISH PRISONER. He has won Emmys for his television writing and two Grammys for comedy albums. In addition to the bestselling PURE DRIVEL, he has written several plays, including Picasso at the Lapin Agile and a highly acclaimed novel, SHOPGIRL. His work appears in The New Yorker and The New York Times.

Author photo (c) Sandee Oliver

Product Description


"Yeah. I just read Steve Martin's memoir of his standup years. Did you read it? Ahhh! It's absolutely magnificent. I just finished it last night. And I kept having to put it down for weeks, because I was inhaling it. It was just so good. One of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written. I think we captured a bit of it in that documentary [2002's Comedian]. But this is the perfect companion to it. I had no idea what this guy suffered 'til he finally figured out that character, and that style. Oh, it's an incredible story. I'd have to stay it's the most remarkable story of a comedy career. " Jerry Seinfeld 'Not just the story of his career in stand-up, Martin includes his relationship with his impossible-to-please father, his hippy years, meeting Elvis, and making a hash out of dating Linda Ronstadt. He also outlines the logic behind his craft, which began with cocked-up magic tricks to audiences of, literally, zero. An excessive determination to be serious was the ruin of Martin as a comedian, but in this eloquently-turned volume, it's a blessing' Arena magazine Dec '07 'Lucidly written and unflinchingly honest... This intricately detailed tale of the lows of a life in comedy is for those who care to understand the man behind the grin' London Evening Standard 'fascinating' Sunday Times 'Fascinating... Incredibly moving' Sunday Times 18/11 'A beautifully, even poetically, written memoir' Daily Express 23/11 '"Doing comedy alone on stage is the ego's last stand," writes Steve Martin in Born Standing Up. That makes this memoir a testimonial for Steve's retired ego -- he quit stand-up in the 70s -- but a richly deserved one' Andy Miller, Humour Books of the Year Daily Telegraph 24/11 'In his memoir, Steve Martin kids that he was Born Standing Up' Vanity Fair, Dec '07 'The book is very droll, even when describing difficult moments... Martin emerges from this memoir as a character both sympathetic and anguished. He can write, as one would expect of a regular contributor to The New Yorker, and be funny on the page' Sunday Herald 18/11 'This autobiography explores Martin's rising fame as a stand-up comedian and his decision to quit the scene altogether, weaving anecdotes, jokes and asides into a fascinating narrative. Martin isn't as candid about his personal life as some might like, but for anyone interested in the realities of stand-up, this is a must' The Leeds Guide 28/11 '[Martin] opts to sign off with the deaths of his parents. It's a powerful ending, but doubtless, like some of those electric early gigs, when he'd take his show onto the streets and lead the audience into rival clubs and swimming pools (drained ones), it leaves you wanting more' Scotland on Sunday 18/11 'This intricately detailed tale of the lows and the lows of a life in comedy is for those who care to understand the man behind the grin' 4 stars London Lite 27/11 'Martin's touchingly, superbly written book... Let's hope this fascinating man offers us a second volume on the latter period in his career. If it is anything like as honest, insightful and revealing as these memoirs, we'll be in for a treat' Mail on Sunday 2/12 'Even if it is not particularly funny, Steve Martin's autobiography is nevertheless compelling... He falls into that category of performers who are earnest technicians of laughter. He is a comedy craftsman' Observer 2/12 'I can recommend with much enthusiasm... Steve Martin's unexpectedly poignant/ expectedly funny memoir Born Standing Up' Joyce Carol Oates, Books of the Year TLS 30/11 'Less a collection of glittering showbiz anecdotes, more a memoir of his relationship with comedy itself, this is the most charming of the autumn's autobiographies... [exudes] a sincerity lacking in so many memoirs written for cash or attention. Fascinating when writing about his difficult relationship with his father and the evolution of his comedic style, Martin nevertheless remembers to be funny throughout' Alexandra Heminsley, TheLondonPaper 'He captures the flavour of the thrill and the fear of a profession where success is measured in waves of hilarity and failure is the silence of a lonely room and an indifferent crowd. Born Standing Up is a modest book, but it is filled with sweet remembrance' Glasgow Herald 24/11 'Great comedy and psychological problems normally go together like Bill Hicks and nicotine. Nice guy Steve Martin's 'funny but weird' schtick means he's pulled off the near impossible by delivering original, occasionally brilliant material, without ever turning into an out and out nut. His look back at his career - from a first job selling guidebooks at Disneyland via self-taught magic tricks, banjo playing, then stand-up comedy and international fame - resists the temptation of riding the ego rollercoaster. Instead, his calm, self-effacing delivery skilfully down plays the excitement and surrealism of the life he's led, making for a rich, very entertaining memoir... A pleasure to read' The List 29/11 'Packed with anecdotes, and advice, which will be valuable to any performer particularly stand-up magicians. At GBP15.99 it's an affordable investment - not to be missed' Magic Circular 'This entertaining book shines brightest in its casual, off-hand remarks, often transcribed from Martin's own routines: "I think communication is so firsbern." What? Oh.' New Statesman 7/1 'Brilliant' Jonathan Ross, Friday Night with Jonathan Ross BBC1 'I like a good showbiz biography. I don't care if it's serious analysis or a hack job. I love tales of wilderness years, empty theatres, agents saying you'll never amount to anything, etc (though ones with tragic endings have me shouting "for pity's sake, die!"). This year I'll go for Steve martin's Born Standing Up, a melancholy book about when he was a stand-up , and an incredible insight into my profession' MY CHRISTMAS CLASSIC Al Murray - Pub Landlord The Times 8/12 'Throughout Born Standing Up, Martin never loses his focus, whether it's talking about his relationships, parental acceptance or what makes him tick. Not many people could get away with the phrase "existentially exhausted" or describe rolling with their act "up a hill like Sisyphus." Wild, yes. Crazy? Never' Independent 13/2 'Short, beautifully written and with fascinating insight in to the craft of comedy, it is an incredibly honest chronicle, the self-deprecating anecdotes helping to punctuate a poetic account of his struggles with anxiety attacks and the pivotal, troubled relationship he had with his father, who remained a brooding, critical influence on him, until shortly before a poignantly rendered reconciliation before his death... The humour is unrelenting' Irish Examiner 2/2 'Beautifully written... this slim and elegant volume abounds with phrases that make the reader purr with pleasure' Sunday Tribune (Ireland) 3/2 "The best autobiography I've ever read. He's so elegant and the whole thing's beautifully written" Jerry Hall, Independent Magazine, 22 March 08 (choosing Born Standing Up as 'A Book That Changed Me') 'In the 1970s, Martin was one of the most successful stand-up comedians of his generation, yet, as this memoir reveals, he was far from being an overnight sensation. His act -- an eclectic mix of magic tricks, banjo playing and surreal comedy -- was honed over many years in America's folk clubs and took more than a decade to perfect' Sunday Times 13/07

About the Author

Steve Martin was born in Texas in 1945. Famed for his stand up comedy and performances in hit comedy films, he is also a writer, producer, musician and composer.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By anonymous on 10 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
I have been a huge steve Martin Fan ever since I saw a clip of him doing stand-up on BBC Comic Relief in 1989. Since then I have seen all his films, purchased his comedy albums and all his books, This book is the best of the lot.

I was in America the day this book came out and I bought it on that day. I couldn't put it down it was such a well written, enjoyable read. It was finished within the day I bought it. His description of him and his fathers relationship is dealt with exceptionally well, the early years at disneyland and the Bird Cage Theatre, The realisation on a sunny day that he is now going to have to write his own material so he can achieve Originality, his relationships, his television writing, his lonely life on the road, all the way through to his enormous success and eventual step-down are all written about in a wonderful, sometime self deprecating, way that I have returned to sections of this book many times since reading it originally.

It is also a book that explains the culture of the late sixties through the seventies from someone who was there but not out of their head all the time... His description of the 'Streets Of SanFrancisco simmering with a toxic vitality' makes me wish I was around at the time as well.

If I have any complaints about this book it is in what he left out, although the stories were mentioned briefly there was no mention of the publication of 'Cruel Shoes' Also there is no mention of his appearance on the Muppet Show, a Television show as Subversive and funny as SNL which he mentions... Also I was disappointed to learn that the white suit he wore, had a practical purpose and wasn't just to make him look crazier...

Excellent Read... Especially for any Comedy Performers out there.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Celtic Mystery on 27 July 2008
Format: Paperback
I loved this book. I had no idea Steven Martin was such a wonderful writer. It's not a long read, wish there had been more, but didn't feel the slightest cheated. I absolutely enjoyed the journey he took us, the reader, on. It was personal, insightful, funny, rueful, behind-the-scenes and made me feel I had sat down and had a really good getting-to-know-you chat with this man. Great photos too. I've been a fan since just before he hit it B I G - I'm happy to say I was at the Amphitheatre show he mentioned. I always looked forward to his SNL appearances, and his films. I had the impression he was rather distant and cold as a person. But reading this you realise the depth and warmth there - and that he was always just protecting his sanity during the extreme craziness of the "Wild and Crazy Guy" and "Well Excuuuse Me" era. Highly recommended IF you are a Steve Martin fan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Rhoades TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 29 May 2008
Format: Audio CD
I am always pleased when I find an author that reads his own work. In BORN STANDING UP, that is the case. Who better to tell the story than the person who wrote it!

When Mr. Martin was doing stand up, I was not a big fan of his. His humor and mind didn't match. Yet, in reading his story, I understand where his humor came from and why. He tells us how he got started in stand up and how it developed. He tells us the story of his life right from his childhood up to today.

He takes us through the learning years where his act was just beginning to the act that everyone wanted to see. He tells the listener how he became estranged from his own family and how he managed to get back together with them again. In other words, he takes us full circle through his life. He even tells us about his writing talent of which I was not aware.

All in all, BORN STANDING UP is a great listen. Even if you are not a fan of Steve Martin, you can't help but become enthralled with his life and why and how he got where he is today.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By K. Giles on 24 Jan. 2008
Format: Audio CD
I would not usually opt for audiobooks, however, I could not resist having Steve Martin recount his stand-up career in person. I was not disappointed. Granted, I am a fan and I agree with the other reviewer - if you know nothing of the author's stand-up career this book is probably not for you. If your experience of Steve Martin is having seen him in films such as The Pink Panther or Cheaper By The Dozen, then I think it likely this book will not satisfy your expectations.

I enjoyed the many extracts from his old routines that Steve happily delivers in character and there are many insights into what dedication went into perfecting his apparently 'wild and crazy' performances. I never knew of his mental breakdown (which lasted some time) before his career took off, perhaps this caused his unusually early whitening of the hair.

Great stuff - oh oh, I'm getting happy feet!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Cook HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 19 July 2012
Format: Paperback
Most people think they know Steve Martin they expect the person he portrays to be what he is in real life.

If you read this book you will soon learn that Steve Martin the man plays his role of Steve Martin the Stand Up Comedien.

The book is short and an easy read at 207 odd pages with plenty of photographs to illustrate Martin's life throughout. It's an easy read and reallly feels like Steve Martin is narrating his life story to you. I was facinated.

Steve takes us from his youth and his family how that influenced him or not - if you read the book you will understand what I mean about that statement- Martin's father Glenn had a complex relationship with him.
He reminises about his early work at the new Disney Land then Knott's Berry Farm and later.

You learn that Steve Martin is good at playing the actor Steve Martin and behind the act is a serious intelligent man who is like an iceberg. Only the tips of his character are on show.

It's an honest biography. Martin is generous in telling us how he has borrowed techniques and styles and he gives credit where credit is due.

I read the book and my respect and admiration for the man were increased.
I would not be a person who would go up to Martin in the street and shout 'I'm a Wild and Crazy Guy' whilst wearing an arrow through my head rather a simple nod and good day would be my tribute to a shy and serious man.

I read the book to find out- to learn something about Steve Martin and with this short book it did just that.
Other reviewer's complain that he is not as honest as he should be and does not delve too deeply into his life but then why should he this is Steve Martin's book written by Steve Martin. If you want a 'warts and all expose' then that's the job of another author who writes a biography
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