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Review: Born Standing Up

July 16, 2010

I know I’m showing my age here, but when I was in college, Saturday Night Live was must-see TV, especially when Steve Martin was appearing.  His comedy just seemed so fresh and edgy and we just loved it when he and Dan Ackroyd would do their “Two Wild and Crazy Guys” sketches.  At the time, I figured he was an overnight success.

When I listened to Steve Martin’s memoir, Born Standing Up, I discovered that his road to success was neither fast nor easy.  He worked for years perfecting his act, starting when he was ten years old. He sold guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland, and after he sold his quota for the day, he could remain in the park.   He took advantage of that time, absorbing as much of the shows as he could.  He went on to work at Knott’s Berry Farm and become even more obsessed with performing.

When he started performing his act, he borrowed from a lot of the acts he had seen and only performed to a handful of people.  He stuck with it and realized that he needed to create his own material to succeed and, succeed he did, only to find out that it wasn’t as wonderful as he thought it would be.  He still loved to perform, but he found himself wracked with loneliness, anxiety and depression.

Although Martin doesn’t reveal much about his personal life, you get the sense that his home life wasn’t particularly happy or sad since his parents were rather aloof.   It does seem he spent his whole life trying to prove something to them.  He says that “perseverance is a great substitute for talent,” and I think he’s proven that he has both.

I really enjoyed Born Standing Up and think Steve Martin has talent as both an author and a reader.  He has done a marvelous job of re-inventing himself through the years.  Fans of Martin and memoirs will enjoy this book.  Just for fun, here’s some classic Martin:

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. July 16, 2010 5:57 am

    I enjoyed your review about “Born to Stand Up” by Steve Martin. I’ve never really gotten in to him. Still, the way you wrote about his life makes the book seem really, really, good. They say clowns are some of the saddest people in the world.

    Kind of quiet this morning. Don’t know why.:)

  2. July 16, 2010 6:45 am

    I love Wild and Crazy Guys! Mr. BFR has the routine down pat. Steve Martin has always been one of my favorites and I’ve admired his work and dedication to his craft. I’ll have to look into this memoir. I bet it’s perfect on audio.

  3. July 16, 2010 6:46 am

    Great review Kathy/ I remember reading the Alan Alda memoir: Never Have Your Dog stuffed and liking it a lot.

  4. July 16, 2010 7:14 am

    I love Steve Martin and can’t wait to read this one!

  5. July 16, 2010 7:21 am

    He has a style all his own, that is for sure. To this day, when I watch The Jerk or Parenthood, I laugh until I wet myself. Generally, with comedians, there is a river running deep, and they do tend to suffer from depression, which is ironic.

  6. July 16, 2010 8:31 am

    Have you read Shopgirl or The Pleasure of My Company? I had read some pretty harsh reviews of both of those books, but I thought they were wonderful.

  7. July 16, 2010 8:43 am

    I’m not a huge Steve Martin fan, so I’ll probably never read this. However, it’s interesting to hear that his success has been a tough road, as I don’t know much about him.

  8. July 16, 2010 9:39 am

    I love the part about Disneyland. I never thought about how he got to where he is. This sounds interesting!

  9. July 16, 2010 10:40 am

    I enjoyed this one on audiobook, too – great review!

  10. July 16, 2010 10:52 am

    OK laughing here- I just watched that video….. LOL!!! Its fun to remember Steve Martin then, I had kind of forgotten and think of him more as the dad in Father Of The Bride and in Cheaper By The Dozen movies. I had no idea that he was born in 1945! What an incredible actor.

  11. July 16, 2010 12:05 pm

    I think Steve Martin is ok, but my dad loves him. I’ll have to send your reveiw his way!

  12. July 16, 2010 12:15 pm

    I love Steve Martin and think he’s a really rare talent, so this book looks excellent to me. I remember loving all his skits on SNL as well. Have you read any of his books? I read one of them, can’t remember the title, and also saw the movie. He is really gifted in a lot of areas. Glad to know you liked the book!

  13. July 16, 2010 1:37 pm

    I read this a while ago and just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Of course, I never saw his early career on SNL, either.

  14. July 16, 2010 1:57 pm

    My husband read this one and really enjoyed it. Of course, we’re also from the generation that grew up watching Martin on SNL–maybe some of the best stuff they ever had on that show! I did move it to my tbr pile when he was done and one of these days, I need to find time to read it.

  15. Beth Hoffman permalink
    July 16, 2010 3:36 pm

    ROTFL … Oh, I just loved The Wild and Crazy Guys. Great review, Kathy!

  16. July 16, 2010 4:04 pm

    Good review.
    I am not a huge fan of memoirs but this one tempts me because I do like Mr. Martin. Yes..a wild and crazy

  17. July 16, 2010 4:57 pm

    Kathy…I truly admire the way you read a wide variety of books…I tend to stick to the genres I know and love…perhaps soon you will be ready to jump on the vampire bandwagon…hee hee hee…

  18. July 16, 2010 5:40 pm

    Thanks for the review Kathy…I always enjoy a good movie with Steve Martin. I think I may have to listen to this one also.

  19. July 16, 2010 6:35 pm

    Great review, Kathy. I am a Steve Martin fan, and appreciate his wonderful sense of humor and funniness. 🙂

  20. July 16, 2010 8:11 pm

    Great review Kathy! I have this audiobook, I had totally forgotten about it! I think it may be time to add it to my iPod. 🙂

    I love Steve Martin.

  21. July 16, 2010 8:12 pm

    My husband read this when it first came out and we still have it around here somewhere. I’ll get to it someday.

  22. July 16, 2010 8:26 pm

    I see several commenters said the same thing I’m about to: “my husband read this…” 🙂 He had some good things to say about it when he did read it, and it’s been on my “get to it eventually” list for a while. Glad you enjoyed it!

  23. July 16, 2010 8:44 pm

    SNL was a staple for Saturday night viewing when I was a teen too. Love Steve Martin and this book sounds very interesting…excellent review.

  24. July 16, 2010 10:40 pm

    I’ve always liked Steve Martin. I think I’d find this very interesting. Thanks for the review Kathy.

  25. July 16, 2010 11:21 pm

    I haven’t watched any classic Steve Martin SNL before (or if I have it’s been minimal). I’ll have to spend some time on YouTube catching up. 🙂

  26. stacybuckeye permalink
    July 17, 2010 10:56 am

    I LOVE Steve Martin! There is something about him that makes me laugh. I am going to have to read this.

  27. July 17, 2010 12:51 pm

    I’m a Steve Martin fan too. The audio would be perfect for a rainy afternoon.

  28. July 17, 2010 11:26 pm

    “Be oblong and have your knees removed” is a venerated quote in this house. I will have to read this book. Thanks for the memories!

  29. July 18, 2010 6:53 pm

    This isn’t a book I will likely read but I am glad you brought it to my attention, Kathy. I have a lot of admiration for Steve Martin and have enjoyed seeing his career blossom over the years. He truly is talented.

  30. July 18, 2010 11:42 pm

    I thought this memoir had a lot to share about his professional life. He’s a very talented man and people usually only see one side of him.

  31. July 19, 2010 10:13 am

    I’ve always been a big Steve Martin fan myself and I’ve wanted to read this book for so long! I’m a little bummed he doesn’t discuss his personal life a lot, because he’s so fascinating, but I guess celebrities/comedians need to keep some things sacard!

  32. July 20, 2010 10:04 am

    i love reading memoirs and this sounds like one i shouldn’t miss. thanks for the review!

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