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Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life [Paperback]

Steve Martin
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 July 2008
Steve Martin has been an international star for over thirty years. Here, for the first time, he looks back to the beginning of his career and charmingly evokes the young man he once was. Born in Texas but raised in California, Steve was seduced early by the comedy shows that played on the radio when the family travelled back and forth to visit relatives. When Disneyland opened just a couple of miles away from home, an enchanted Steve was given his first chance to learn magic and entertain an audience. He describes how he noted the reaction to each joke in a ledger - 'big laugh' or 'quiet' - and assiduously studied the acts of colleagues, stealing jokes when needed. With superb detail, Steve recreates the world of small, dark clubs and the fear and exhilaration of standing in the spotlight. While a philosophy student at UCLA, he worked hard at local clubs honing his comedy and slowly attracting a following until he was picked up to write for TV. From here on, Steve Martin became an acclaimed comedian, packing out venues nationwide. One night, however, he noticed empty seats and realised he had 'reached the top of the rollercoaster'.B ORN STANDING UP is a funny and riveting chronicle of how Steve Martin became the comedy genius we now know and is also a fascinating portrait of an era.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books (7 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847391486
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847391483
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 253,569 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


.... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Charming 27 July 2008
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Comic Genius and How he became one. 10 April 2008
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Life of a comic genius 3 May 2009
By b
American comic and film actor Steve Martin explores the development of his standup routine, his road to fame and the reasons behind his retirement from the stage in this short but entertaining biography, laced with some of his best lines and accounts of his favourite routines. The book is often poignant, especially when exploring his difficult relationship with his father and contains evocative accounts of some of his early experiences. I am looking forward to reading his account of his film career.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Stand Up was my life's work 29 May 2008
By Barbara Rhoades TOP 500 REVIEWER
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Well EXCUSE MEEEEE! 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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Born Standing Up will be of most interest to young people who want to create a career performing in stand-up comedy. I was fascinated by Steve Martin's recollections of the lessons he learned at the magic shop in Disneyland and in performing at the Bird Cage Theater at Knott's Berry Farm. Both places were favorite haunts of mine while he was doing his apprenticeship, and I'm sure I saw him perform but don't remember him. Knowing a lot about both places, it made it easier for me to appreciate the other steps he took to develop an act and to become recognized. His description of being on the Tonight Show was a good lesson in patience . . . the first dozen or so appearances don't do a thing for your career.

Having seen him perform, I could never figure out why he chose to do the self-deprecating bit and wear a white suit. Now I know how all that came about. It was definitely interesting.

But if you want to know a lot more about Steve Martin, the man, and his daily thoughts and challenges . . . this book will leave you disappointed.

At times I felt like I was reading a book about how to plan a career rather than an autobiography -- especially towards the end when he explained how heavy touring while you are hot makes it inevitable that you won't develop the new material you need to stay hot. I guess there's a reason why Bob Hope always had so many writers working for him.

I haven't always enjoyed Steve Martin's humor, and I found myself wondering over some examples of what was great about his humor. If you aren't a big fan of Steve Martin's or don't want to be a stand-up comedian, you might find it wisest to skip this book. It's probably a two or three star effort for you.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars So refreshing for a comedian's memoir to be upbeat and not maudlin.
I enjoyed the positive feeling of Martin's enthusiasm for his career search from Disneyland to amateur dramatics to college and beyond. Read more
Published 2 days ago by D. Turner
4.0 out of 5 stars Martin's laugh in
Very funny in places. Steve has earned his place at the top through hard work.
Published 24 days ago by Edward Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life is an amazing book told by the...
Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life is an amazing book told by the author, Steve Martin. This book was great and the fact that Steve Martin read it himself made it all the better. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Christopher J. Cowen
4.0 out of 5 stars Very enjoyable
Funny and at times poignant. Martin seems to be very honest, and tells it warts and all. Interesting to read about the his struggles and doubts. Read more
Published 10 months ago by R. G. Mabbitt
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading
Interesting and pleasantly sober, but to my mind not the beautifully-written milestone book that many of the reviews suggest. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Daddy
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Memoir, Quick Read
This is going to sound crazy, but prior to reading Steve Martin's memoir, Born Standing Up, I had not idea that he had been such a popular stand-up comedian. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Karen Lea Hansen
1.0 out of 5 stars Yawn
Born standing up has as many belly laughts and as much amusement as reading the phone book.Perfect for insomniacs.As hilarious as any Mr Martin film of the last 20 years.
Published 11 months ago by ?
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insight to Mr Martin
I first heard Steve Martins stand up about twenty years ago and I loved it straight away. Off beat and very funny. the story behind it is fascinating and enlightening. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Fionn Stafford
5.0 out of 5 stars Rubber Chicken Graph
...One of the the finest stand-up comics ever. Shame he moved to cheesy movies, although I loved Roxanne, L.A. Story, Grand Canyon and a few others. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Dave C
5.0 out of 5 stars a true comic genius
Read how this comic genius went from amateur magician at Disneyland to become a huge stand-up comedian in 70's America, and then why he walked away from stand-up for good. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Lord Anon
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