Listen free for 30 days

£7.99/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime

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.

Critic reviews

"Absolutely magnificent. One of the best books about comedy and being a comedian ever written." (Jerry Seinfeld)

What listeners say about Born Standing Up

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    362
  • 4 Stars
    174
  • 3 Stars
    58
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    373
  • 4 Stars
    90
  • 3 Stars
    36
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    1
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    293
  • 4 Stars
    148
  • 3 Stars
    55
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Bland

I got this on recommendation for books on comedy (theory and practice). It’s closer to a book on the yester-years, and how one guy lived his life and became a famous performer. Like his comedy, it was pretty bland. If you’re excited about the era the author grew up, or like his comedy and want to read about its evolution, it may be of interest. If you don’t already like Steve Martin’s comedy, skip this one.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story

I expected some funny moments as Steve is a class act. I ended up listening with real interest to his poignant life story more than most would write. I only wish it was twice as long as Steve’s narration is so good. Great story and thoroughly enjoyed

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

For Steve Martin fans... And maybe even the haters

Candid and heartfelt, with a good insight into the journey to becoming a comedian - highs and lows and all in between

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

belter

One of the best books regarding the career of a comedian I have read. boobs

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A great insight into a wonderful performer

I've admired Steve Martin for years and this glimpse into his life leading up to his stand up career, the years during and why he gave it up is informative and entertaining. It's also about so much more, the work that goes into a craft, the joy and ultimately the understanding when and why it is no longer fulfilling and what he did to remedy it, giving himself an exit strategy.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Funny, moving and personal

Jerry Seinfeld recommended I read it. Steve is intensely funny and talented really enjoyed it.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Andrew
  • Andrew
  • 30-11-07

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!

112 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for J. Johnson
  • J. Johnson
  • 18-06-08

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.

42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Pamela J
  • Pamela J
  • 20-12-07

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.

39 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Susan
  • Susan
  • 26-05-08

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.

25 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for S. Casey
  • S. Casey
  • 04-07-08

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!

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Edward
  • Edward
  • 01-03-09

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.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Christopher
  • Christopher
  • 13-07-09

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!

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Mr Dangerous
  • Mr Dangerous
  • 18-05-19

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Inspirestrength
  • Inspirestrength
  • 01-05-19

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.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for BookLover
  • BookLover
  • 20-04-19

Genius.

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

2 people found this helpful