In the late Seventies and early Eighties, one man with white hair and matching double-breasted suit dominated American pop culture. With an arrow through his head and a banjo strapped to his shoulder, Steve Martin went from entertaining hecklers in bars to being the first comedian to perform in concert arenas.
In his autobiography, “Born Standing Up,” Martin details his rise from selling guidebooks at Disneyland to making 40,000 people in one room laugh at the same time. And more importantly to the legions of fans who are still recovering from bruises from falling to the floor laughing, Martin gives the reasons he gave up touring:
” a private life that was no longer private, and
” trying to do intimate comedy with thousands of people watching.
“Today I realize that I misunderstood what my last year of stand-up was about,” Martin writes. “I had become a party host, presiding not over timing and ideas but over a celebratory bash of my own making.”
The book is an easy read, able to be finished on a plane flight. Martin leaves few details to the imagination about his stand-up days, chronicling everything from how he became adept at making balloon animals to numerous one-night stands in hotel rooms.
Fans of Martin should love the book for providing insight to some of the best comedy ever performed. Everyone else should enjoy reading about pop culture three decades past.