Tony's Reviews > Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
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's review
Dec 07, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: biography
Read in December, 2010

Martin, Steve. BORN STANDING UP: A COMIC’S LIFE. (2007). ****. I was a big Steve Martin fan. His routines were always fresh, daffy and quixotic. Then he disappeared from TV. But then, I had his movies to see. Now his movie days are gone and he plays the banjo with his band. He is an excellent banjo player. What drove him to make these several career shifts? I thought this book would let me know. It doesn’t really. Martin outlines his working career for us in a series of chapters in chronological order. His first job was selling souvenir programs at Disney Land when he was ten-years old. When that became boring, he worked his way into one of the magic shop on the grounds and became an assistant clerk. He learned his magic tricks there and fueled his interest in performing. He worked hard at whatever he did, but the focus was always on getting into show business. He went to a succession of California colleges and almost majored in philosophy – and almost majored in English lit. Some of this carries over into his early routines, where he often recites poetry in the middle of his skit. His early days as a stand-up comic were spent in small clubs around the country. He was noticed by some of the right people, and taken on as a writer for several different comedy shows, including SNL. There’s where he got his big break because he was able to step onto the stage in front of the cameras occassionally and show his talents. He still recited poetry. He tied balloons around his head. He played the banjo. He hit it big with the “wild and crazy guys” routine he played with Dan Aykroyd. Why did he move to film? The pressure of keeping his routines new and fresh was getting to him. He began to have anxiety attacks. Whatever the reasons, we managed to hold on to his category of humor for a few more years. This is a good memoir, though a bit pedestrian. Recommended.

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