• Born Standing Up

  • A Comic's Life
  • By: Steve Martin
  • Narrated by: Steve Martin
  • Length: 4 hrs and 2 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (13,723 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.

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What listeners say about Born Standing Up

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

129 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

52 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

35 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

49 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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!

21 people found this helpful

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Incredible glimpse of deep truth in the life

Great autobiography of the evolving artist, Steve Martin. Defining moments, influential people, challenges, triumphs in spite of and because of. The dedicated work, hard facts and knee knocking fears, all told giving depth of true life, in character and out. Excellent.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

24 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Delightful.

I laughed out loud. This was entertaining with sharp writing. Steve Martin is an American treasure. Worth a listen.

Martin is a fantastic narrator.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Genius.

Again: GENIUS!!! This book pulled me out of a blue month and back into the pink. Steve Martin is now officially my CRUSH. :)






5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

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!

17 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alistair
  • 05-13-11

Interesting insight into a great comedian

Steve Martin's narration is wonderfully clear and insightful, unlike many of his contemporaries he is able to recall the early days of Saturday Night Live and the 70's stand-up seen brilliantly. It is a useful look into the formation of his career and how he struggled early on. I would have preferred it to be a little longer as it’s much more interesting than many celebrity auto-biographies.

5 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • AudiobookDevotee
  • 02-26-20

A memoir of his stand up years not a biography.

I came in expecting a Steve Martin autobiography and instead got memoirs largely centred around his stand up years. As that was a bit before my time I didn't know he had done stand up nor did I know the names of many of the undoubtedly famous people that he mentioned working with.

My biggest problem with this was the lack of a coherent time scale for things. One minute he's sleeping in his car at 21 the next he's decided to pursue his dreams despite turning 30. You never really get a firm grasp on the chronology. In the last few minutes he describes this as his memoirs which makes more sense considering I thought it was biographical (as he says at the start).

Don't expect lots of funny behind the scenes bits as well. Not only is Martin intensely private but he was also alone for much of his career so you get a lot of talk about him and his act but stories involving meaningful interactions with other people are few and far between.

On top of that these memoirs are focused very much on his stand up career. There are maybe half a dozen stories outside of that bracket but he has restricted himself quite harshly. As he is an accomplished author and smart guy I can only assume this was a very deliberate move.

Having said all that it was interesting to hear how his act came together and how it grew iteration by iteration. The book is short so you don't have much time to get bored but equally nothing is explored to any great depth. I think this is more of a story for Martin fans who remember this era.

His narration was excellent though and his banjo playing made for a fun chapter transition effect. I did laugh a couple of times but not as much as I thought I would.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • john keegan
  • 07-09-13

Funny Guy!

Would you try another book written by Steve Martin or narrated by Steve Martin?

Yes, yes, yes. This is the first audiobook I have heard by Steve Martin and thoroughly enjoyed. It's fantastic hearing the author tell his thoughts and jokes.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Great book and a story that brings you up to date.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I wouldn't say I enjoyed one chapter or scene more than another, I did however love hearing how the conception of some of his catchphrases came into being.

Was Born Standing Up worth the listening time?

The book was a very open and honest account of his life, a must buy if you like Steve Martin, his work and comedy. My only downside was I felt it was too short.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Narny
  • 06-17-11

Tears of a clown.

I heard Scottish comedian Susan Calman recommend this book but having quite a mixed opinion of Steve Martin I thought it would just be a few hours of him massaging his own ego.

However I admit to being very wrong and understood Ms. Calman's reason for recommending it. This honest and sometimes very sad memoir of Steve Martin is a very memorable and surprising listen. Yes, there is plenty of humour but it clearly shows the road to fame has been a hard journey for the star and he readily admits to his own faults. At the end of it my opinion had been altered somewhat.

I would recommend this. It may not change your opinion of Steve Martin but it is an enlightening listen from the author.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • MR D Shukla
  • 04-24-22

really interesting insight into extreme persistenc

I read this book because it was recommended by Cal Newport about the incident of the 10000 hours and practise and I'm pleased to say that I was far from disappointed underwent the most intense journey in his search for comic as well as ruby stardom and it's a real real excitement and representation of what staying connected to the path looks like

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard C Brown
  • 04-05-22

How do you become a great comedian?

Good news! You don't have yo be borderline mentally ill to be a wild and crazy guy. Steve Martin shows that becoming a much-loved icon of comedy actually took him years of hard work and practice. Unfortunately, that process wore away his mental health to nothing anyway. It's about getting to know yourself, knowing when to stop and when to walk away before it is too late. Really good story!

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  • Robin Atkinson
  • 03-03-22

I ❤️ Steve Martian

I can honestly say, hand on heart that I listened to this entire audio book. Well done Steve especially when you consider everything.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Emily
  • 02-22-22

Really enjoyable!

Interesting insight to a very funny man. I wanted to know more!
very good!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Kazakh Stan
  • 01-30-22

First audiobook, what a wonderful start

feeling privileged to have the marvellous Steve Martin recount & share this fascinating, at times soul wrenching but ultimately joyful account, would thoroughly recommend, couldn't stop listening & chuckling - what a talent, wonderful example of tenacity & imagination - thank you for all the joy you've brought into the world

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael FA McLoughlin
  • 01-08-22

"Well, thaaank yoooou Steve"

I loved listening to every minute - not the seconds, they were terrible - but the minutes, bliss!

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  • Melle
  • 11-19-20

Wonderful Insight, Masterfully Told

One of the all-time great autobiographies, particularly of a comedian. Just brilliant and wonderfully narrated by the great man himself. Loved it. Wanted more, but I guess a comedian always tries to leave you wanting more, rather than overstaying their welcome on stage.

High recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-05-17

noooiiice book <br />

I need 15 words to submit my review of the book so apple car box stapler

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Larry Ellis
  • 05-17-22

Beautiful.

I have to write at least fifteen words, but all I wanted to write was "Absolutely beautiful".

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-07-21

Great story with truth about personal struggles

My husband and I enjoyed listening to Steve’s story and his journey to be successful in what he Does. What we learned that to be successful, he was persistence, hard working, constantly re invent himself, and had great self belief in what he does, which are the values we wish to teach our children. We like his personal story not just about how he achieved success, but more about the struggle with his family, early career challenges, and impact on his personal life when become a celebrity. We all know Steve Martin the comedian, but not the real Steve Martin behind this persona. Thank you for sharing such a deep and personal story.

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  • Rhonda Wainwright
  • 09-15-21

Enjoyable & interesting

With Covid being Covid I have not read a book for quite a while. As a Nurse in Quarantine Hotels it’s very difficult to concentrate on such activities but Steve Martin telling his own story has made we Re engage & enjoy the book via audio oh yeah plus the banjo playing was fun. From Sydney down under 🙃🌺

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  • MR PETER A RICHARDS
  • 07-04-19

Dull, lifeless reading from a great performer.

The delivery from Martin was dull and lifeless for nearly the whole book. For such a great performer this was a real shame. The book is very short, some interesting anecdotes and a look behind the curtain, but ultimately not very deep and delivered in what feels like a disinterested way.

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  • Mikerhodes
  • 04-04-19

Utterly wonderful

What a bloody lovely guy. The pain and pleasure of performing are vividly shared. A great insight into a masterful and shy comedian. Loved every bit

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Leigh
  • 12-23-18

Not particularly insightful or entertaining

There are better books to spend your time with. Steve Martin admits himself that he not a great interview or comfortable with sharing. I respect that, but it doesn't make for a great book.

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  • Rosie
  • 11-30-18

A beautiful gathering of a moments across a career

I was born in 1990, so I knew Steve's face only from Father of the Bride and as a generally-famous-person-but-I'm-not-sure-what-for. This book was recommended to me and when I read anything autobiographical, I always check for the audiobook. Happily, I found this. It was a wonderful listen with moments of painful reality and slow tragedy. I learned much about him just by how he presented his life. I can imagine this was difficult but necessary to write - the catharsis and nostalgia, though subtle, are ever present throughout. Listening to it, you'll see a very human story behind the glamour of an "overnight success" and the true cost of that success. You'll see decades pass by in chapters and you'll laugh and you'll want to cry but can't quite. Like his comedy, there are no punch lines, just notions that follow you around for a few days. He writes well and I felt as if I were in my own version of that stage or that town.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me is the stark difference between the person on stage/camera and the person who wrote these words. I had never watched any of his work until partway through listening to the book when I dug around for the videos of him and Johnny Carson and on SNL. In a corner of YouTube, I found a very old and jumpy recording of Steve with Robin Williams. I know there is a lesson there - something I am seeing but can't quite write. How often we think that a person is only what we perceive them to be, even if we've only seen a sliver of their life in the contrived world of stage or film.
I am glad that this book paved the way to show me his work. I have The Jerk, The Three Amigos, and his Netflix special all queued up.
But I am grateful that I came to the book first.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • MR Geoff Bowen
  • 06-06-18

tiny on laughs

Had Steve put a bit more effort into this it would have been better. Love to see a revision