Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
A Comic's Life

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Synopsis

The riveting, mega-bestselling, beloved and highly acclaimed memoir of a man, a vocation, and an era named one of the ten best nonfiction titles of 2007 by Time and Entertainment Weekly.

In the mid-seventies, Steve Martin exploded onto the comedy scene. By 1978 he was the biggest concert draw in the history of stand-up. In 1981 he quit forever. This book is, in his own words, the story of “why I did stand-up and why I walked away.”

Emmy and Grammy Award–winner, author of the acclaimed New York Times bestsellers Shopgirl and The Pleasure of My Company, and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, Martin has always been a writer. His memoir of his years in stand-up is candid, spectacularly amusing, and beautifully written.

At age ten Martin started his career at Disneyland, selling guidebooks in the newly opened theme park. In the decade that followed, he worked in the Disney magic shop and the Bird Cage Theatre at Knott’s Berry Farm, performing his first magic/comedy act a dozen times a week. The story of these years, during which he practiced and honed his craft, is moving and revelatory. The dedication to excellence and innovation is formed at an astonishingly early age and never wavers or wanes.

Martin illuminates the sacrifice, discipline, and originality that made him an icon and informs his work to this day. To be this good, to perform so frequently, was isolating and lonely. It took Martin decades to reconnect with his parents and sister, and he tells that story with great tenderness. Martin also paints a portrait of his times—the era of free love and protests against the war in Vietnam, the heady irreverence of The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the late sixties, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the seventies.

Throughout the text, Martin has placed photographs, many never seen before. Born Standing Up is a superb testament to the sheer tenacity, focus, and daring of one of the greatest and most iconoclastic comedians of all time.
 

About Steve Martin

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Steve Martin was born on August 14, 1945 in Waco, Texas. He studied at Long Beach State College. He has acted in such films as The Jerk; Roxanne; Planes, Trains and Automobiles; Bowfinger; Father of the Bride; Cheaper by the Dozen; and Shopgirl, which was adapted from a novel he wrote. He has won an Emmy for his comedy writing and Grammies for his comedy albums. He has made several appearances on The Tonight Show and Saturday Night Live. He has written several books including Shopgirl, Cruel Shoes, Pure Drivel, The Pleasure of My Company, and An Object of Beauty. He also wrote a play entitled Picasso at the Lapin Agile and a memoir entitled Born Standing Up. During the 1990s, he wrote various pieces for The New Yorker. In 2002, he adapted the Carl Sternheim play The Underpants, which ran Off-Broadway at Classic Stage Company and in 2008, co-wrote and produced Traitor.
 
Published November 20, 2007 by Scribner. 228 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Humor & Entertainment, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Aug 04 2013
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Weeks as Bestseller

Unrated Critic Reviews for Born Standing Up

Kirkus Reviews

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Despite gaining renown as one of Saturday Night Live’s “wild and crazy guys,” Martin (The Pleasure of My Company: A Novella, 2004, etc.) didn’t set out in search of celebrity.

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The New York Times

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Steve Martin explains how he ended up at both the pinnacle of stardom and the brink of disaster.

Nov 15 2007 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

The New York Times

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Steve Martin documents his evolution as a comic.

Dec 02 2007 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Publishers Weekly

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Martin recounts his tense childhood, his desire to become a magician and his segue into standup comedy in his surprisingly serious and eloquently written memoir.

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Publishers Weekly

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The typically reticent performer shares rarely disclosed memories of childhood—his father, a failed actor, harbored increasing anger toward his son through the years—and the anxiety attacks that plagued him for some two decades, along with his early success as a television comedy wr...

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BC Books

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A friend of mine passed along her copy of Born Standing Up – A Comic’s Life with glowing praise and I sat down to read it with high expectations.

Mar 25 2008 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

BC Books

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Martin writes briefly but devastatingly about the coldness of his relationship with his father, a relationship he sums up like this: “I have heard it said that a complicated childhood can lead to a life in the arts.

Feb 20 2008 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

NPR

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He went from performing in an empty San Francisco coffee house to hosting the Oscars. In his memoir Born Standing Up, out now in paperback, comedian Steve Martin talks about his early days as a stand-up comic — and why he quit.

Oct 22 2008 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

NPR

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Steve Martin gave up stand-up comedy in 1981, at the height of his fame. He calls his new book Born Standing Up a biography rather than an autobiography, of a guy he used to know.

Nov 27 2007 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Examiner

Martin grew up 2 miles from Disneyland, and gravitated to the option of becoming an entertainer amost immediately, making the transition from magician with a few funny bits at Knott’s Berry farm to discovery of a natural talent for comedy, and dogged pursuit of that ability until he was to a full...

Sep 28 2011 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Entertainment Weekly

In Born Standing Up, his new memoir, Steve Martin (pictured in 1978) recalls his time as an up-and-coming comic

Nov 16 2007 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

The Independent

... When a famous person takes the unusual step of actually writing their own autobiography, there is a tendency for critics to be so overwhelmed ...

Jan 27 2008 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Suite 101

Actor, writer, comedian and author Simon Pegg chronicles his journey from "small child to big kid" in a sparkling, funny and poiniant memoir.

May 14 2009 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Pajiba

... Don't Trust Whitey; See a Doctor and Get Rid of It. Born Standing Up by Steve Martin / Dustin Rowles. Book Reviews | February 5, 2008 | Comments (. View. ) ...

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Slate

According to the census bureau, roughly 40 percent of the American populace was born after 1981, which means that Steve Martin has not been a stand-up comedian in their lifetime.

Dec 03 2007 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

About.com

In the late 1970's, Steve Martin's career as a stand-up comic was at a climax.

Mar 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Bookmarks Magazine

Erika Schickel New York Times 4 of 5 Stars "Mr. Martin describes Born Standing Up as a biography rather than an autobiography, "because I am writing about someone I used to know.’ … Even for readers already familiar with Mr. Martin’s solemn side, Born Standing Up is a surprising book: smart,...

Jan 31 2008 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Oprah.com

Cathleen Medwick reviews Born Standing Up by Steve Martin for O, The Oprah Magazine.

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Jason Patz

... Yeah, I Remember My First Beer, review by fuche_bu. ... The title is Born Standing Up. He does write of this as a book about his comedy career.

Apr 04 2009 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Reading In Winter

... AUDIOBOOK REVIEW: Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin ... I mean, he's an author of several books, a well-known comedian and actor — is he ...

Jun 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

The Readventurer

... Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin audiobook cover ... Review: I loved this book so much because it was everything I ...

Jun 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

BookBrowse

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin ... This book is a memoir, but it is also an illuminating guidebook to stand-up from one of our two or three greatest comedians.

Mar 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Books And Movies

... BOOKS AND MOVIES - …talking books, movies, TV, and all things entertainment …

Sep 01 2011 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

The Miami Herald

Continuing my quest to read more of Steve Martin's books after enjoying his novel An Object of Beauty, I just finished the audiobook of his short comic memoir Born Standing Up.

Mar 01 2013 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

News-Telegram

Jan. 22, 2008 - Steve Martin's comedic genuis is rooted in some pretty serious childhood sadness.

Jan 22 2008 | Read Full Review of Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life

Reader Rating for Born Standing Up
80%

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