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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lauren Owen: IMG The Other Vampire

It's a wild and thundery night. Inside a ramshackle old manor house, a beautiful young girl lies asleep in bed. At the window, a figure watches... Continue »
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    The Quick

    Lauren Owen 9780812993271

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4 Hawthorne Humor- General

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life


Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life Cover




Born Standing Up andlt;link type="application/vnd.adobe-page-template+xml" rel="stylesheet" href="page-template.xpgt"andgt; andlt;link rel="stylesheet" type="text/css" href="9781416569749.css"andgt; andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;h2 andgt;Beforehandandlt;/h2andgt;andlt;BRandgt;andlt;BRandgt;I DID STAND-UP COMEDY for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success. My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next. Enjoyment while performing was rareand#226;and#8364;and#8221;enjoyment would have been an indulgent loss of focus that comedy cannot afford. After the shows, however, I experienced long hours of elation or misery depending on how the show went, because doing comedy alone onstage is the egoand#226;and#8364;and#8482;s last stand.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;My decade is the seventies, with several years extending on either side. Though my general recall of the period is precise, my memory of specific shows is faint. I stood onstage, blinded by lights, looking into blackness, which made every place the same. Darkness is essential: If light is thrown on the audience, they donand#226;and#8364;and#8482;t laugh; I might as well have told them to sit still and be quiet. The audience necessarily remained a thing unseen except for a few front rows, where one sourpuss could send me into panic and desperation. The comedianand#226;and#8364;and#8482;s slang for a successful show is and#226;and#8364;and#339;I murdered them,and#226;and#8364; which Iand#226;and#8364;and#8482;m sure came about because you finally realize that the audience is capable of murdering you.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;Stand-up is seldom performed in ideal circumstances. Comedyand#226;and#8364;and#8482;s enemy is distraction, and rarely do comedians get a pristine performing environment. I worried about the sound system, ambient noise, hecklers, drunks, lighting, sudden clangs, latecomers, and loud talkers, not to mention the nagging concern and#226;and#8364;and#339;Is this funny?and#226;and#8364; Yet the seedier the circumstances, the funnier one can be. I suppose these worries keep the mind sharp and the senses active. I can remember instantly retiming a punch line to fit around the crash of a dropped glass of wine, or raising my voice to cover a patronand#226;and#8364;and#8482;s ill-timed sneeze, seemingly microseconds before the interruption happened.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;I was seeking comic originality, and fame fell on me as a by-product. The course was more plodding than heroic: I did not strive valiantly against doubters but took incre mental steps studded with a few intuitive leaps. I was not naturally talentedand#226;and#8364;and#8221;I didnand#226;and#8364;and#8482;t sing, dance, or actand#226;and#8364;and#8221;though working around that minor detail made me inventive. I was not self-destructive, though I almost destroyed myself. In the end, I turned away from stand-up with a tired swivel of my head and never looked back, until now. A few years ago, I began researching and recalling the details of this crucial part of my professional lifeand#226;and#8364;and#8221;which inevitably touches upon my personal lifeand#226;and#8364;and#8221;and was reminded why I did stand-up and why I walked away.andlt;BRandgt; andlt;BRandgt;In a sense, this book is not an autobiography but a biography, because I am writing about someone I used to know. Yes, these events are true, yet sometimes they seemed to have happened to someone else, and I often felt like a curious onlooker or someone trying to remember a dream. I ignored my stand-up career for twenty-five years, but now, having finished this memoir, I view this time with surprising warmth. One can have, it turns out, an affection for the war years.

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wurdnurd, February 18, 2010 (view all comments by wurdnurd)
More a treatise on Steve Martin’s unique brand of absurdist humor, this slim memoir discusses his influences and experiences and how and why he developed his style. A notoriously private person, it’s hardly surprising that Martin glosses over his romantic entanglements, marriages and divorces and his relationship with his sister. His parents receive perfunctory (and poignant) mentions at the beginning and end. Instead, it’s all about Martin’s career as a stand-up comedian: the beginnings, the height (and hype) and the abrupt end. His television, movie and literary careers are all mentioned only in context to stand-up, which lends this memoir a tight, controlled pace and makes for a quick, fun read that works.
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Dr. Rico, November 11, 2009 (view all comments by Dr. Rico)
Martin is well known as a writer and actor, but for a few years in the late 1970s he was a comedy god, making three platinum albums and performing hundreds of sold-out arena shows. This is an unsparing but also unsentimental look at how he created that act, drawing on his interests in magic, the banjo, philosophy, and art, set against his unhappy family life and his nomadic days as a young performer and writer. Martin is smart enough to be able to comment on the nature of his act, even if he may not have understood it at the time, and honest enough to keep the reader enthralled. This is an exceptional book about both finding your voice and balancing your public and private personae.
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Product Details

Martin, Steve
Scribner Book Company
Entertainment & Performing Arts - General
Entertainment & Performing Arts
Entertainment & Performing Arts - Comedians
Personal Memoirs
Entertainers -- United States.
Martin, Steve
Biography-Entertainment and Performing Arts
Biography - General
Comedy, Comedian, Bestseller, Memoir, Knottand#8217;s Berry Farm, The Smothers Brothers Show, Dan Ackroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carl Riener, Johnny Carson, Shopgirl, The Pleasure of My Company, Why I did stand-up and why I walked away, Stand-up comedy, Cruel S
Comedy, Comedian, Bestseller, Memoir, Knottand#8217;s Berry Farm, The Smothers Brothers Show, Dan Ackroyd, Lorne Michaels, Carl Riener, Johnny Carson, Shopgirl, The Pleasure of My Company, Why I did stand-up and why I walked away, Stand-up comedy, Cruel S
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
b/w photos throught
8 x 5.25 in

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Drama » Acting
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Actors » Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Film and Television » Biographies
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Comedy Business and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » General
Arts and Entertainment » Humor » Narrative
Arts and Entertainment » Sale Books
Biography » Entertainment and Performing Arts
Biography » General

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 224 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9781416553656 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

At times uproarious, often sentimental, and always laced with the wit and charm we've come to expect from Steve Martin, this is a warm and enjoyable portrait of his life in stand-up from childhood to his last show in 1981.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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 coffee house), 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 Show and breakthrough moments with small, confused audiences. Though 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 film debut The Jerk, but with a visit to his parents and Knott's Berry Bird Cage Farm, where he first performed as a teenager." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Born is a smart, gentlemanly, modest book. That it comes from a man who's spent his life lampooning arrogance makes it all the more winning. (Grade: A)"
"Review" by , "Even for readers already familiar with Mr. Martin's solemn side, Born Standing Up is a surprising book: smart, serious, heartfelt and confessional without being maudlin."
"Review" by , "Absolutely magnificent. One of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written." Jerry Seinfeld,
"Synopsis" by , Emmy- and Grammy Award-winning comedian and bestselling author Martin delivers one of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written . . . absolutely magnificent (Jerry Seinfield).
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