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Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life Paperback – September 2, 2008
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Born Standing Up A Comics Life by Martin, Steve. Published by Scribner,2008, Binding: Paperback Reprint Edition
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Martin's book brings the dark, but not so much the anger; more sadness. What he does a pretty good job of is showing that, while he landed by an accident of birth in a charmed place and time, he was plagued with the same dysfunctional family relationships as people whose lives are less charmed.
But what I found the most interesting is that he's somewhat candid about the conceit behind his most-lucrative period of "new comedy" -- that it was aimed at creating the impression that you had to be smart to understand it, that something important was being said that you needed desperately to be a part of, something that the yapping masses wanted to"be hip to," and that you didn't dare let on that you didn't find it funny for fear of letting people know how uncool you truly were. You had to get the inside joke, or pretend you did, to avoid being mocked. And in that sense, his comedy was actually a microcosm of much of the culture of the seventies, (and '80s) specifically -- phoniness, full-blown artifice. That's what Madison Avenue, when it co-opted the hippie culture, created; it morphed the sixties' culture into its polar opposite while retaining the superficial trappings.
What does this have to do with Steve Martin’s book? Comedy is born out of life’s tragedies and trauma’s; they force us to become stronger and more resilient, and over time - look at things - in a sometimes disturbing humorous light.
Steve’s book was enlightening and uplifting, from learning about his triumphs and struggles- in all that he endured to become the comic, and man he is today. I admire him greatly! The biggest obstacle and accomplishment when reading this, and I’d think he’d agree, was after obtaining a certain amount of respect, fame, and fortune, and having written “Lapin Agile” a play set in 1905 about the hypothetical meeting of Picasso and Einstein – Steve returned home. He earned the respect of love of his father, and basked in the love of his mother and sister; taking delight in their stories of forgotten anecdotes. There isn’t any greater gift in life than that!
If you desire to be a comic/entertainer I highly recommend reading this book. It will not only inspire you, but offer you an introspective look at what and why you wish to be a comic. Comedy is a journey - such is life, and what better way to view it than in this humorous biography, “Born Standing Up.”
Steve Martin set records filling stadiums for comedy shows. Before that, he was an opening act at concerts. Before that, like many comedians, he struggled, doing five shows a day for twelve years. He gives insights into how family dynamics drove him into his craft, and what it was like to discover his unique creative voice.
It's well-written, which is something I'm especially appreciative of lately. I recently read a book by another comic that was poorly-written. I finished it because I was interested in that person's story, but the stink crept into my own writing, and it took a few days of practice to shake it.
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Great book!Read more