Title: Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life
Author: Steve Martin
Narrator: Steve Martin
Publisher: Clipper Audio 
Length: 4hrs 3 mins
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My rating: 3/5
One-liner: A sombre look at a funny man’s life
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Steve Martin concentrates on only a certain portion of his life with this offering which, while incorporating elements of his childhood, focuses on his dozen or so years as a stand-up comic during the late 60′s and into the 70′s. I’ve always thought being a comedian would be one of the toughest jobs on earth and so was interested to hear him tell of the years of hard work and rejection that led to his success as a headliner of arena shows being a regular on such shows as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show. He talks at some length about how he developed and honed his act from the mish-mash it started as to the more polished work it became where all the sweat and effort were hidden from the audience. It made me wish I’d been able to see him at one of his early live shows when he regularly took his audience members on a tour of the venue’s car park. There are also a smattering of anecdotes about his meetings and relationships with other celebrities though not a lot of these and, happily from my point of view, no dirt is dished on anyone.
While there are occasional interesting insights in the book it is for the most part simply a recitation of facts about Martin’s working life. There’s little reflection about the impact various events had on him, even when he talks about serious issues such as his depression or his strained relationship with his father. He says at one point that he’s a very private person and that becomes so clear by the end of the book that I wondered why on earth he bothered to include those more serious personal things at all if he only ever intended to boil them down to an unemotional sentence or two.
I thought it would be interesting to hear Martin read his own words but his delivery was, presumably deliberately, very flat. It didn’t matter whether he was re-telling a funny anecdote or recounting his emotional final meeting with his dying father: his tone of voice was exactly the same monotone. I think this is one of the few instances where I think I’d have enjoyed the print book more than the audio version as I’d have given a bit more emotion to some sections of the book than Martin did.
I enjoyed the parts of this book that dealt with the profession of stand-up comedy as I like peeking into worlds I know little about. I’d have preferred him to include more of these details than the snippets of his personal life that I assume he included reluctantly (or under pressure from publishers) based on the lack of substance those portions of the book had.