I finished reading the Steve Martin book of which I receieved 13 copies.
Wednesday December 03rd 2008, 1:20 am
Filed under: Sodapopcornculture

I only finished one of them, as I assume all the copies of Born Standing Up by Steve Martin I received end very similarly. I hadn’t been intentionally avoiding the book because it made me feel predictable (“why, here’s a book Reid would like need to get better!”), I just figured with odds like that, I couldn’t very well hide from the book, and would eventually come to read it in just the right way at just the right time.

As I’ve been working to get myself back into my own comedy, this was clearly the right time.

I’ll admit that, over the years, while I like biographies, I haven’t tended to like auto-biographies. And while I’ve liked everything I’ve ever read of Steve Martin’s (of particular notes, his novel The Pleasure of My Company and his play “Picasso At The Lapin Agile”), for years, I made deliberate anti-theatrical (or maybe anti-critical) effort to avoid reading about the lives of artists I truly respect as artists. I wanted to respect their pieces on their own, not needing to force an understanding from their lives onto their work. I wish I could say this was worthwhile, but I now think it’s much more an unconscious reaction to certain literature teachers I “learned from” over the years, who tried to impose things that simply don’t exist onto a story.

Of course, this led me to look very foolish several times, as Joe and Vickie can attest about my formerly pathetic knowledge of Freddy Mercury, or who exactly he was killing in Bohemian Rhapsody. Ruis can most definitely attest that it took me a while to understand that art is a community, and that everyone brings something important.

Sometimes, when we’re lucky, we open ourselves up to the very best artists who can then continue to teach us things about their craft that allows us to enjoy them in a different–yet incredibly familiar feeling–way. That is what Born Standing Up is. Martin makes it very, very easy to open up to him, but that doesn’t mean that what he’s saying lacks any importance. It is his important, scientific, look at a mind that not only ushered in main-stream modern comedy, but was able to redefine just exactly what comedy is to generations of comedians who didn’t know it needed redefining in the first place. It is a reference book about what it is I want to do, just in the same way that Seinfeld’s Comedian was an ultimatum that many simply can’t face: comedy is hard work, and if you’re not willing to put in the work, you will not be a success.

Martin pulls you in to his thought process (“Who wouldn’t want to be in show business?”), he writes as if you might just have been along for this or that anecdote, but, most importantly everything dances off the page, a performance in itself–only this time, a performance and a lesson in reality. Do what you love, and make sure to do it the best you can, because even if you love it, it ain’t gonna be easy.

I rate Born Standing Up by Steve Martin 5 out of 5 something arbitrary, because it all made sense in the end, even if life doesn’t always seem to be moving in that direction for some very long periods of time… from time to time.


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Well I’ve run your review by the review committee reviewers’ commitee, and we’ve come to the conclusion that I’d like to read this book at some point.

Comment by Matt Gallo 12.03.08 @ 11:13 am

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