Pin It

Book Review 

by TED S. McGREGOR JR. & r & & r & Born Standing Up & r & by Steve Martin & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & W & lt;/span & ell there're some sad things known to man, but ain't too much sadder than the tears of a clown." Ah, the immortal words of Smokey Robinson -- I couldn't help think of them as I finished Steve Martin's new memoir. Short on laughs but long on pathos, Born Standing Up is not what you'd expect from one of America's great clowns. Yes, that wild and crazy guy really is kind of sad on the inside.

But that's exactly what makes this a compelling book -- there's a real person behind the carefully choreographed stage persona that made Steve Martin the biggest comedian ever. His humble start at the inception of Disneyland, helping hawk merchandise, then in a cheesy revue at Knotts Berry Farm are both charming anecdotes. And his stint writing for The Smothers Brothers (then the most controversial show on TV), appearances on The Tonight Show and later landing a recurring guest gig on Saturday Night Live prove that it does take a little luck to make it big.

But more important, it takes skill -- and Martin earned his chops in hundreds of stand-up appearances. Learning to make people laugh, like knowing how to build a house, is, in the end, hard work. And the most fascinating part of the book is how Martin's stand-up career went from empty rooms in Southern California (where he would often try, at least, to make the waitresses laugh) to hipster hangouts in San Francisco (where his throwback white suit was considered a hoot) to, ultimately, sports arenas. Along the way, you'll discover the roots of such legendary absurdist bits as cat juggling and getting small.

The tears of the clown come from his family life. He left home as a teenager, and his father never quite accepted his career -- worse, he didn't think his son was that funny. Martin did make amends with his family. That smile on his face fooled the public for a while, but now that he's let us behind the curtain, you can't help but appreciate him even more.

Pin It

Latest in News

Readers also liked…


Comments are closed.

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu
Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age

Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by n/a

  • Iron Upgrade
  • Iron Upgrade

    The new one is smart and funny and action-packed, and it’s bigger and better and sleeker. And Downey does it again, this time ramping up Stark’s arrogant wisecracking, telling anyone who’ll listen (mostly women) that, via the creation of his powerful Iron Man suit, he’s brought years of uninterrupted peace to the world.
    • May 12, 2010
  • Seeing Gay
  • Seeing Gay

    A festival showing GLBT from all angles
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • Get Out the Vote
  • Get Out the Vote

    With all the uncertainty in the world these days, hot wings and cold beer are two things we can get behind
    • Nov 9, 2009
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

green zone



do something


© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation