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Born Standing Up

A Comic's Life
Written by: Steve Martin
Narrated by: Steve Martin
Length: 4 hrs and 2 mins
4.6 out of 5 stars (127 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In the mid-70s, 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. Born Standing Up is, in his own words, the story of "why I did stand-up and why I walked away".

At age 10 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.

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 60s, and the transformative new voice of Saturday Night Live in the 70s.

©2007 Steve Martin (P)2007 Simon and Schuster Inc.

What the critics say

2008 Grammy Nominee, Best Spoken Word Album

"Absolutely magnificent. One of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written." (Jerry Seinfeld)

What listeners say about Born Standing Up

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Steve Martin

Used to crack me up. Very nostalgic. Wish I had started listening to books earlier

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful Memoir

Thoroughly enjoyed getting to know about the life of one of my favorite comedians. I loved learning about how much thought he out in to creating a new kind of comedy. The banjo in between sections was a lovely touch. Solid memoir, would definitely recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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Seriously.....funny

Steve speaks with eloquence and honesty about his life and career. It’s interesting how the perspectives that made him so different are the things many of us can relate to. It’s not easy to be serious and funny at the same time but Steve seems to achieve that with ease. I guess that’s what makes him one of a kind.

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An Excellent Book

I really like Steve Martin openness and honesty and about his life. I learned a lot about comedy and I will read other books by him. I look forward to his next release. Thank you

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Really enjoyable

Really enjoyable and Steve Martin as they narrator was a huge bonus. Wish it was longer and would love to hear about the rest of his life after stand up. Highly recommend this audiobook. Makes me want to go re-watch all his movies and concerts.

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Doesn't work for me

I guess you need to be his fan or someone who is interested with show biz to find this book interesting.

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a really funny guy

Steve is an educated comic genius able to tell us his life story while I busted a gut. you killed it, Steve

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Brilliant!!!

Thank you Steve Martin for sharing your journey, struggles, and triumphs. Didn’t want the book to end.....

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A raw and introspective novel

What a great autobiography by Steve Martin, exploring his rise to fame and shedding light on his anxieties and securities that came with that success.

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Andrew
  • 2007-11-30

Fantastic

Get this audiobook. It’s one of the best show biz biographies I have ever seen. Definitely the best one that ever mentioned Dariel Fitzke’s Showmanship for Magicians. Actor/comedian/writer/art collector/banjo picker/magician Steve Martin details his journey from aspiring young magician to the biggest comedian of all time (he was the first comedian to sell out 45,000 seat venues).

You’ll find out that his overnight success took ten years and only then happened when he decided to go his own path. Despite the frequent bookings on the Tonight Show, fame and headliner status eluded him for a long time. He’d been demoted to performing only on guest host nights for a long period because Johnny wasn’t in to his act. When he slowly found his way, Johnny became his biggest fan.

I sat down with this book to just read a chapter and couldn’t put it down. I read the whole thing in one sitting. I’m getting the audiobook next. It’s an amazing story of how a performer struggled and grew in his art. It’s the best analysis I’ve ever read of what it takes to be an original and how hard it can be to get acceptance for that.

I could go on about this book, but you should really just be reading the book. So I’ll end this right here: Go get this audiobook!

108 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • J. Johnson
  • 2008-06-18

Great for a first timer!

This was my first Audible Audiobook, and I was curious as to whether I would enjoy it or not. I loved it! Steve does a great job narrating the book himself and it keeps you entertained the whole time. I like books that give you an inside look to worlds you wouldn't normally get to see, and that's exactly what this book does. Highly Recommended.

42 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Pamela J
  • 2007-12-20

A stand-out book

I've always liked Steve Martin, but it wasn't until I started to read his books that I can say I LOVE Steve Martin. And this book, more than even the fiction he's written, reminds me of what a great talent he is.

I'm not a celebrity watcher so I was hesitant about this one. I finally decided I'd try it because I thought it might be sort of funny. Yes, there's humor but this much more about an era. I was zapped right back to my adolescence and early adulthood spent watching Saturday Night Live and learning to do the "Tut" walk. It's a great book if you get the references (does everybody remember the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band?) but even if you don't it's a revelation on how comedians are created (or create themselves) from their circumstances. Seldom are we priviledged enough to really get into someone else's head, but you'll want to crawl inside this one and enjoy looking around. Loved it.

39 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • S. Casey
  • 2008-07-04

Excellent!

This is an excellent book and Steve Martin's narration makes you feel like you're in his living room listening to him tell his story to you personally. I loved it!

18 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Susan
  • 2008-05-26

Loved it!

What a charming genuine affable guy. Loved the book. My only problem with this book is that it isn't long enough. I wanted more. I'll wait for his second memoir.

24 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Edward
  • 2009-03-01

Well Written and Narrated

I have actually listened to this several times. It is fairly short, but a well written account of the evolution of his act. It is hard to imagine the years that went into editing out the bad material and fine tuning the good to make Steve Martin one of the funniest comics. It seems to get funniest at the end, like his act, insightfully spanning a few decades. It is also fun to hear his familiar voice reading the story of his professional life.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 2009-07-13

Why he walked away

Quite a memoir from the once "wild & crazy guy"! Steve dated Stormie Omartian? (GASP! LOL)

The flat tone may turn some listeners off, but Steve Martin wisely chose it to emphasize just why he walked away from stand-up comedy after all the work he put into making it.

Steve Martin has a great reading voice, and I think he has another career ready when he decides to walk away from acting.

Highly recommended!

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Billy
  • 2010-01-09

Really good

I have so much respect for this man after having read (listened to) this book. When anyone works as hard as he did, you have to admire them. This is not a guy who fell into his career, he is someone who worked and worked to get to where he is. And, he reads it which is very entertaining. I highly recommend this book.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Sher from Provo
  • 2013-06-26

Stands up well

I have always been a fan of Steve Martin. To me, a comedian/actor has to strike a balance between being able to be incredibly funny and yet have the ability to be serious when appropriate. Steve Martin found that balance. Many of his movies are on my all-time faves list, but I also enjoy his standup routines. I think he is a genuine person, and that reaches out to me. So it isn't surprising that I enjoyed reading about his life. No, this is not a literary masterpiece, but as far as memoirs, it is fairly well written, entertaining and engaging.

Martin reads his own memoir, and does a fine job of it. He is, after all, an entertainer.

12 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Vincent E. Allen
  • 2009-12-21

A delighful look behind the genius of Steve Martin

This is a well written and well read. It is heartfelt and insightful as to how a man can hone his craft.

6 people found this helpful