The riveting, mega-bestselling, beloved and highly acclaimed memoir of a man, a vocation, and an era named one of the ten best nonfiction titles of the year by Time and Entertainment Weekly.
In the mid-seventies, 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. This book is, in his own words, the story of “why I did stand-up and why I walked away.”
Emmy and Grammy Award–winner, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Martin has always been a writer. His memoir of his years in stand-up is candid, spectacularly amusing, and beautifully written.
At age ten 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. The dedication to excellence and innovation is formed at an astonishingly early age and never wavers or wanes.
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 sixties, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the seventies.
Throughout the text, Martin has placed photographs, many never seen before. Born Standing Up is a superb testament to the sheer tenacity, focus, and daring of one of the greatest and most iconoclastic comedians of all time.
Amazing and inspirational insight into the making and genius of the greatest comic of our time. Steve’s reflections take me back to 1979 when I would listen to my parents albums of none other than Mr Wild and Crazy Guy himself. And although I don’t know why his skits including Let’s Get Small were so funny to an 11 year old boy they are part of my psyche and make me laugh on the inside every time. It’s like humming your favorite tune but not actually ever knowing the real lyrics. It’s genius and deep within us!! Thank you Steve for sharing!55
Just finished reading Steve Martin’s autobiography “Born Standing Up”. I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and recommend it for any fan of Steve, or of comedy or show business in general. I am a few years younger than Steve, and have followed and enjoyed his career for many years. I could relate when Steve revealed that his father never did “get” is act. While my brother and I loved Steve’s TV appearances, our dad hated them. We loved Steve’s movie “The Jerk”, but our dad, predictably, would not sit through it. By Steve’s own admission, his act broke new ground and was designed to appeal to a younger audience. The fact that our fathers didn’t “get” it is therefore understandable. If you are 80+ years old, you probably will not appreciate this book. But younger readers, especially those who have seen Steve’s stand up act, or listened to his comedy records, will thoroughly enjoy it. If you don’t, well excuuuuuuuse me!55
Inspiring, informative, and very interesting. I love how well written it is as well.55
I was 14 when I saw Steve Martin in concert in Greensboro, NC. I loved his comedy, still do! The book gives perspective on where it all came from. Good read!45
Direct, honest and yes, funny. I've always been a Martin fan, but it's great to piece it all together. Like Navin Johnson, he tells his story wonderfully and even though there isn't a Bernadette Peters, to sing a great sensitive duet like, 'Tonight You Belong to Me', it sometimes feels like there is. A real fun read.55
Steve Martin's autobiography is a gem -- a small perfectly faceted memoir about how (and why) he became a comedic icon. His book entertainingly describes the long, often difficult journey Martin traveled in order to become an "overnight sensation." Like all great craftsmen, when he was at the top of his game Martin made what he did look effortless and spontaneous -- but behind that "effortless" facade were years of trial and error spent refining his craft. In "Born Standing Up" Martin draws the curtain aside, and allows us see some of the elements that went into making "Steve Martin the Comic." And what a comic he was. Seldom, if ever, has any other comedian approached Martin's success at melding absurdity, goofiness, intelligence, cleverness, and outright fall down funniness in such a seamless whole. He was "insider hip" without being mean spirited or condescending about it, and we were all welcomed to be on the inside with him.55
Really enjoyed the book . Steve can really wtite an hold your attention .55
I was surprised at this revealing crystallization of Steve Martin's life. While some passages are stamped "poignant" or sharply edged, there is no superfluous fluff spinning out the sentences. I was taken with his portrayal of a dad in Parenthood, and am most aware that, while he was screamingly funny while performing his stand up act, his writing leaves me heart-sore. I wonder if anyone's life is easy.55
Having been a fan since the first time I ever got small, I was enthused to read this book. I found it to have fantastic pace, with an easy narrative style that was simultaneously informative and warm. This is a great read.55
Having been a fan of Mr Martin since the mid-70s, I was excited to experience this book. Actually, my introduction to his craziness occurred when I was serving in the Navy in Japan. At that time, I had gotten into the habit of saying (in Japanese) SU-MI-MA-SEEEEEN! - roughly translated EX-CUZ MEEEEEE! A dear friend had written me a letter stating that I would really like this new comedian "back home" who reminded him of me. What a compliment that turned out to be. Steve Martin's humor is my humor - and as it turned out - a LOT of people's humor. After reading this book, I now know how it started. I was surprised to discover that there's a LOT of work involved in spontaneous comedy and Mr. Martin is a genius at it. There are a very few people in this world whom I truly wish to meet before I pass on. Mr. Martin is one. That desire is only greater now that I've read this wonderful recollection of a very talented man.45