10.05.2009

Born Standing Up / Steve Martin : 5 of 5

Back in my school days, I remember listening to Steve Martin's comedy albums over and over on cassette, and I can still recite a few routines by heart. So since I enjoy his comedy as well as his writing style, I've been wanting to read his biography Born Standing Up for quite a while, and thanks to PaperBack Swap (once again!), I finally own a copy! This book has been a huge bestseller, and it's easy to understand why, since Steve's words are thoughtful and friendly, as though he were telling you about his life or discussing the evolution of his comedy act over lunch. Unlike the average biography, Born Standing Up really is as much about Steve's comedy "philosophy" as it is about himself, and it's fascinating to read how his talents in music and magic developed into what he calls a "parody of comedy". There's a full chapter on his childhood days at Disneyland, where he worked for years selling guidebooks and demonstrating tricks in the magic shop, and I loved reading about his experiences at the Golden Horseshoe and his overall love of the park. Almost as wonderful is his description of performing at Knotts Berry Farm (which really makes me want to visit to see the Birdcage stage!), full of nostalgia not only for the shows but also for his early love life there. Most of the chapters are comedy-focused, but Steve also adds some really touching and personal moments regarding his relationship with his parents (such a wonderful way to end the book). There's so much more to mention, such as descriptions of his early shows where he took the audience outside of the club, or his experiences writing for TV, or finally becoming appreciated by Johnny Carson, or anecdotes about writing and filming The Jerk. He also reproduces quite a few short bits, which are fun to read, and even drops hints at their origins in a wonderful foreshadowing way. Steve Martin's incredible comedy career was a one-of-a-kind phenomenon, so it's nice to be able to enjoy such sensitive, descriptive, and of course, downright funny memories from the man himself!

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