This year I had the absolute joy of seeing three of my favorite standup comedians on stage. The adventure started in Milwaukee to go see one of the best, Brian Regan. From there, it was down to Chicago to catch Louie CK (a bucket list item crossed off!), then finally up to Madison to chill with Bill Burr. It was a great lineup of amazing talent…and I loved each performance for different reasons.
Though I don’t have experience in standup comedy, I do have experience in writing…and I know how challenging comedy writing can be…ESPECIALLY standup. It takes a special person to take on that task, and it’s become quite clear to me overtime that, while all standup entertainers may technically be “comedians”, not all comedians can do standup. It’s a skill, a talent, that only few and far between can do and do well.
And before all the great comedians of today, there was a little twirpy dude who put on some bunny ears, hopped up on stage and hoped for the best. Little did he know that he would soon become the biggest concert draw in the history of standup comedy.
Filled with hilarious stories of failures and successes and told in the unique voice of the author himself, Born Standing Up is an eye-opening autobiography from famed entertainer, Steve Martin. Though most people today may know him as a banjo player/movie star/author, Steve Martin actually got his start doing standup shows…and Born Standing Up is an intimate look at why he decided to do standup, then walk away forever.
Steve Martin has quite the resume. His “professional” life started at age 10 when he worked selling guidebooks at the newly opened Disneyland theme park. A decade later, he worked the Bird Cage Theatre at Knott’s Berry Farm where he got his taste for magic and comedy.
Throughout the rest of his years, Martin worked to fine-tune his skills, highlighting in his book the sacrifices, discipline and originality that helped make him an icon. By the early 70’s, Martin was the biggest concert draw in the history of standup and enjoyed massive success during his run on Saturday Night Live.
But, as we all know, heavy is the head that wears the crown…and as most talented performers will tell you, it’s quite lonely at the top. In 1981 Martin made the choice to quit standup forever…and as a true and gifted writer, explains his story and his reasonings with elegant prose and lovely language.
A superb testament to the sheer tenacity, concentration and focus it takes to be one of the greats, Born Standing Up helps peel back the layers to this multi-talented performer and shows the world, with great gusto, one wild and crazy guy.
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.