Born Standing Up
Steve Martin
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Buy *Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life* by Steve Martin online

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Steve Martin
208 pages
September 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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People come up to me every day, and ask me, “Hey, Mr. Reviewer Man, is there a written source out there, say, maybe a BOOK, for example, where I can read the straight poop about the life of the ‘Wild and Craaazy’ Steve Martin?” I previously have been sadly forced to reply, “No, there isn’t. There are web sites devoted to him, but they don’t count. You can’t have the same sort of tactile sense of feeling the paper of a finely crafted book, and of receiving paper cuts from them. You can’t smell the smell of the paper, fresh from the paper mills of the Amazon rainforests, may they rest in peace. Web sites can’t make it as Oprah Book Club selections, or win Pulitzer Prizes.” But, thankfully, those days are a thing of the past, ever since the momentous and glorious day when Steve Martin’s brilliant tell-all expose of his life as a stand-up comedian, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life, hit the local book-selling establishments.

What do you get for your hard-earned greenbacks? Never-before published photographs of the great man himself, for one. Also, you get to read an intimate, behind-the-scenes account of Steve’s early childhood, how he got interested in magic and performing in front of an audience in general, his jobs at Disneyland and performing at the Bird Cage, and his love life. His history of comedy includes jobs writing for the famous ground-breaking, censor-defying Smothers Brothers, and appearances on the Merv Griffin Show and The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson - oh, and let’s not forget his multiple guest hostings and appearances on Saturday Night Live.

As a teenager, I enjoyed watching Steve Martin perform on TV every chance I could and bought his first two albums, Get Small, which the book states “sold a million and a half copies,” and A Wild and Crazy Guy, which “sold two and a half million copies and went to number one on the charts. Well, okay, number two.” His albums, appearances on SNL, and rendition of the song King Tut made my teen years somehow brighter and filled with the joy of laughter, especially during the cold winters of Illinois.

Yes, the book contains photographs, you may argue; yes, it has a behind-the-scenes look at his early years and details his beginnings in show business; yes, it mentions some of his love interests, along with describing his rise to super-stardom, such as one with the beautiful Mitzi Trumbo, the daughter of the writer Dalton Trumbo; but, does it have any examples of actual humor, or is it just some dry account of his life as a stand-up comedian? Why, yes, it does contain examples of Steve’s humor, and far from being a dry account, it drips and oozes interesting, page-turning tidbits of information about his life. For example, there’s this following syllogism about babies:

  1. Babies are illogical.
  2. Nobody is despised who can manage a crocodile.
  3. Illogical persons are despised.

  4. Therefore, babies cannot manage crocodiles.
Why did Steve Martin start wearing an arrow through his head? What is the deep, philosophical meaning of the ambiguous balloon animals he sculpted and placed as a crown on his head? How did the expression “I’m a wild and craaazy guy!” originate and become one of his most popular catchphrases? I don’t want to give too much away. Buy the book; read the book; enjoy and laugh out loud while you’re reading the book and juggling cats at the same time; give it as gifts to your friends, family, and countrymen. I highly recommend it. (By the way, no cats were harmed during the writing of this review.)

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Douglas R. Cobb, 2007

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