I have just finished reading Born Standing Up (A Comic’s Life) by Steve Martin. Yep, that’s the same Steve Martin of an-arrow-through-the-head and The Jerk fame. I really expected this to be a funny book. I am pleased to report that, aside from the occasional quip or reference to an old bit, it is a serious look at the rise and turbulence of his comedic life.
In fact about two-thirds of the book is driven by a sadness that settles in like the universal background radiation. You know it’s there, you can sense it, it’s mostly harmless, and it brings information about the past.
I suppose it’s important to mention that I was enjoying Martin’s comedy as it was happening, during what he describes as his funniest period (say, from 1977-1979). So I was rather in the thick of it, at least as a consumer. I remember my neighbor and my childhood best-friend Corey Cartwright would put on his parents’ Steve Martin albums much to our young delights. But this period only accounts for perhaps a third of the book.
He sets up his early life through the first half. This gives the reader a clear and intimate picture of him as a person, as well as offering a vivid account of the path by which he came to comedy and rose into the clouds.
I thoroughly enjoyed the reading of this biographical work. I recommend it highly and I thank my brother for the gift of this book.
Go make someone laugh, kids. We’ll make the world a better place.