Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Book Review: Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin

When Steve Martin made his first appearance on Saturday Night Live, his dad published a negative review of the performance. Their difficult relationship is one of many personal disclosures that Steve shares in his book, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life.

What first impressed me about the book was the writing. It's concise which is not easy to accomplish considering the time span over three decades. Steve writes about, "someone he used to know." A young boy who grew up to be a successful stand-up comedian.

At age ten, Steve landed what I would have considered a dream job in my youth. He worked at Disneyland selling guidebooks and then performing magic tricks. By age twenty-one, Steve was writing for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on television. It took 16 performances on The Tonight Show to finally be a hit. What paid off was perseverance and always trying to be better than the last show. 

Steve observed others, studied artists like Jack Benny, practiced, practiced, practiced, performed throughout the country and looked for ways to be unique. His idea to drop the punch line and let an audience decide what's funny helped to create a unique style of comedy.

The book captures the time period from the 1950's through 1970's. Since I came of age during these years, it brought back memories to me. 

Steve writes with humor and offers personal insights to his life including difficult times. There are also photos scattered among the pages.

This is a great read for those interested in show business or just starting out in any career. He shows that success comes from not only a strong belief in self but also through hard work perfecting what you do best.

Steve was "born standing up," and has brought laughter to all of us.

What's your favorite Steve Martin moment?

Rob's Rating: 5/5

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin. Scribner. Copyright 2007.

FTC: This was the March selection for my library book discussion group. I purchased my copy several years ago and just read for the first time.


  1. I have to confess I've never been a fan of Steve Martin. But whenever I think of him I picture him with the arrow on his head (that was made to look like it was going through his head, except anyone could see that it just looked like a hairband with arrow halves on each side).

  2. Hi Jill!

    Someone early on told Steve to lose the arrow. He didn't listen. Sometimes it's best to trust you own instincts.

    Thanks for commenting. Even for non-fans, there are good life lessons in the book.

    Aloha from Rob

  3. I've been a Steve Martin fan for ages, but know very little of his personal life. My favorite moments involve the "wild and crazy" Czech brothers and other early SNL sketches. I also remember watching The Jerk and being one of the only people in the theater laughing...

  4. I love Steve Martin and I'm old enough to remember him on Saturday Night Live. I bet I would love this book!

  5. ello :)
    found myself here doing a search for this book. i like to read other blog reviews after i finish/post my own. it's fun to see what others have to say.

    have you read shop girl and pleasure of my company? also great reads of his. love his voice.


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