Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life by Steve Martin

born standing up

Steve Martin’s memoir Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life tells the story of how he got started in comedy as a young boy, how his career progressed during the 1970s, and why he stopped doing stand up comedy in the early 1980s.  It is a really fascinating look into his journey from selling guidebooks at Disneyland at age ten, to his work at a magic shop, to his early attempts at comedy shows, and all the effort he put into his career which ultimately made him a celebrity doing sold-out comedy shows.

Martin also talks about his childhood and his relationships with his parents and how those relationships changed over time.  What struck me was how well Martin shows the reader how his career as a stand-up comedian and his relationships with his parents were both journeys that he took through his life…changing all the time, with ups and downs…and I was moved by how well he reflects on those experiences.  I appreciated how candid he is about the difficulties of being a celebrity and how he seemed to lose connection with his craft as his fame grew.

Since I was a very young child during the height of Martin’s stand-up career, I don’t have memories of many of the comedians and shows that he refers to throughout his book; if I had been born a decade earlier I might have enjoyed his story more.  Also, as I listened to the audio version (read by Martin himself), I did not see the pictures that are in the actual book.  I enjoyed the audio version, but because I didn’t get to see the pictures, I kind of wish I went with the paper version instead.  Anyway, great memoir. Happy reading!

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