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Archive for November 12th, 2009

Steve Martin’s Born Standing Up

2009-11-12Where in the world am I today?: At Sea aboard the ISLAND Princess

Back when I was debuting “The Hot Dog Show” at the 2009 PNE a couple people mentioned how much they had enjoyed “Born Standing Up” a book by Steve Martin that discusses his career in Stand-Up Comedy. At the time I was far too busy to track down a copy of the book, let alone find the time to read it. I’m an incredibly slow reader, so the prospect of reading books, even though I know I benefit enormously from making the time, is sometimes a bit daunting. I think my friend Jeremy (who was at the PNE and was one of the people who mentioned the book to me) must really have wanted me to absorb the content of the book in what ever format I could so he gave me a gift certificate for audible.com – It was the push I needed to tap into the wonderful world of audio books and a few weeks back I used the gift certificate to buy a copy of the Steve Martin book in audio format.

So… What did I think of this piece? Fabulous! I LOVED it! I didn’t get the chance to listen to it until I got on the plane just recently to fly down for my latest cruise ship contract aboard the ISLAND Princess, but it was a fantastic way to enjoy the time I spent on the flight between Dallas and San Jose, Costa Rica. The unabridged text is read by Steve Martin which I think made the experience even better than it would have been had I made the time to read the hard copy of the book. Having Steve provide the appropriate nuances and vocal inflections to his own words was fantastic as were the moments of genuine emotion that were clear when he reflected on his life and his career.

I find myself drawing parallels a lot this week between the way he describes his career and the life that most entertainers I know have experienced in one way or another. Yes the scope of his success far exceeds that of most of my contemporaries, but the steps he went through, his love of the craft, the great gigs, the crap gigs, and everything in between… It’s all there.

I think my fondness for the material and delivery are in great part a reflection of the fact that I’ve always been a huge Steve Martin Fan. My awareness of Steve Martin came in the late 1970s when I’d stay up late to watch him on Saturday Night Live or listen to his cult classic “King Tut” on the radio. At the time my parents were going to school at the University of Minnesota and we lived right next to the Minnesota State Fair. I have vivid memories that Steve Martin played a live concert at the Minnesota State Fair one year and I desperately wanted to go and see him live but was too young to get into the show and just enjoyed hearing about it from older friends who had either gone to see the show or had friends that had.

In the world of variety entertainment there are sometimes few great examples of how to take what you do and turn it into a career path that can make you famous (if that’s what you’re after) but Steve Martin’s story is a classic from his beginnings helping out at the Magic Shop at Disneyland to selling out arena shows with a show that really wasn’t ever built to play arenas… I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book in what ever format works best for you and enjoying a great ride.

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