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Born Standing Up

A Comic's Life

This book is available for download with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device, and with iTunes on your computer. Books can be read with iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


Steve Martin has been an international star for over thirty years. Here, for the first time, he looks back to the beginning of his career and charmingly evokes the young man he once was.

Born in Texas but raised in California, Steve was seduced early by the comedy shows that played on the radio when the family travelled back and forth to visit relatives. When Disneyland opened just a couple of miles away from home, an enchanted Steve was given his first chance to learn magic and entertain an audience. He describes how he noted the reaction to each joke in a ledger - 'big laugh' or 'quiet' - and assiduously studied the acts of colleagues, stealing jokes when needed. With superb detail, Steve recreates the world of small, dark clubs and the fear and exhilaration of standing in the spotlight. While a philosophy student at UCLA, he worked hard at local clubs honing his comedy and slowly attracting a following until he was picked up to write for TV. From here on, Steve Martin became an acclaimed comedian, packing out venues nationwide. One night, however, he noticed empty seats and realised he had 'reached the top of the rollercoaster'.

BORN STANDING UP is a funny and riveting chronicle of how Steve Martin became the comedy genius we now know and is also a fascinating portrait of an era.

From Publishers Weekly

31 December 2007 – Neatly combining his personal and professional worlds, beloved comedian, filmmaker, author, magician and banjoist Martin (Pure Drivel) chronicles his life as a gifted young comedian in this evocative, heartfelt memoir, which proves less wild and crazy than wise and considerate—though no less funny for it. 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 writer, first for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and the evolution of his stand-up routine. Sharp insight accompanies stories of his first adult gig (at an empty San Francisco coffeehouse), his pioneering “no punch lines” style (“My goal was to make the audience laugh but leave them unable to describe what it was that had made them laugh”), appearances on programs like The Steve Allen Comedy Hour and breakthrough moments with small, confused audiences. Though the book is vivid and entertaining throughout, Martin doesn't dish any behind-the-scenes dirt from Saturday Night Live or The Tonight Show; rather, he's warm and generous toward everyone in his life, including girlfriends and colleagues. Tellingly, this intimate early career recap ends not with Martin's decision to give up live performance or his first starring role in The Jerk, but with a visit to his parents and Knott's Berry Farm, where he first performed as a teenager.

Customer Reviews

My new favorite Author

I fancy myself a bit of a closeted stand up comedian so buying Steve Martin's life story was a no brainier. I didn't expect to enjoy the book as much as I did, I missed being in his world once I'd finished.

Born Standing Up
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  • £6.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biography
  • Published: 04 September 2008
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
  • Print Length: 224 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings