Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life
By: Steve Martin
Scribner; Reprint edition (November 20, 2007)
Born Standing Up is Steve Martin’s memoir. And although he touches on a bit of everything along the way, the main focus is, of course, Martin’s years as a stand-up comedian. He shares some good stories and reminisces about all the years and all the fun that went by in a blink. Of course, at my age, I know Steve Martin primarily from his life in the movies, addressed briefly at the end of the book. Where did he begin his journey you ask? Working at Disneyland as a teenager.
Two of my favorite quotes:
When I graduated from high school, he offered to buy me a tuxedo. I refused because I had learned from him to reject all aid and assistance; he detested extravagance and pleaded with us not to give him gifts. I felt, through a convoluted logic, that in my refusal, I was being a good son. I wish now that I had let him buy me a tuxedo, that I had let him be a dad. Having cut myself off from him, and by association the rest of the family, I was incurring psychological debts that would come due years later in the guise of romantic misconnections and a wrong-headed quest for solitude. I have heard it said that a complicated childhood can lead to a life in the arts. I tell you this story of my father and me to let you know I am qualified to be a comedian.
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.