**** Four Stars
Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
by Steve Martin
If you've ever seen or admired Steve Martin, you will enjoy this breezy autobiography that focuses mainly on his beginnings and stand-up years.
I noticed Steve when he burst into popular culture in the 1970's, and this book shows how he got there. (Hint- a LOT of hard work and failure, as one would predict) He started at age 10 working at Disneyland and met formative people that nurtured his show business bent, first in magic, then in comedy, and finally in banjo playing. He also did theater at Knotts Berry Farm in California as a teenager, and studied Philosophy in college. He then did the grind of perfecting his act while hitting the road and going on television as much as he could.
His acts are known for their manic silliness, and he goes through the process of how he came up with some of his most famous bits like the arrow through the head, Excuuuse Meeee, and Wild and Crazy Guy. Steve Martin is a comedy legend, conquering the world of standup, comedy records, television (via Saturday Night Live and Johnny Carson appearances), movies, music, and even Broadway.
Not only is Steve Martin talented and hard-working, but he is also relatively free of some of the baggage of fame such as drug abuse and huge ego's. His humor is self-effacing and relatable. He spends a good part of the book describing his struggles with his parents, especially his father, who was far from warm and encouraging. His reconciliation with his dad brought a tear to my eye. He also details something I never knew, that he suffered from intense panic attacks, as well as loneliness and shyness on his lengthy road trips.
This autobiography made me love Steve Martin even more and check out some of his more famous bits, which are readily available on You Tube. If you can, I'd recommend listening to the audiobook, which is read by the author.
Comedians are one of our most precious resources, and I try to read their books when I can. Not only are they funny, but they are also complex and perceptive. I also recommend Amy Schumer, Eric Idle, and Robin, the stunning story of Robin Williams.