Rated Reads

Born Standing Up

by Steve Martin

Rated: High

Now we know him as the put-upon dad in “Father of the Bride” or the harried father in “Cheaper by the Dozen,” or many other classic roles in film. But before the movie roles, Steve Martin spent years perfecting his stand-up routine, in an era before comedy clubs even existed. In his short memoir about that time in his life, Martin describes the evolution of his comedy, the years in which he just hoped he could make people laugh and maybe earn a small living from it. It took years of piecing together routines and concepts in tiny venues before he became known as a “wild and crazy guy.”

Those expecting a book full of one-liners will be disappointed. The first half is pretty straightforward, an examination of his younger years learning magic tricks, playing the banjo and trying to get laughs at a little theater at Knott’s Berry Farm. It’s interesting and informative, particularly a good primer for those wanting to get into stand-up themselves. The second half is a bit funnier, as he recalls jokes he wrote and off-the-wall routines he did. It’s a combination of the more “private” Martin and his stage persona, and it’s a nice mix.

Rated: High. There are only four uses of strong language, but it’s a high amount for such a slim tome. There are also a few other uses of moderate language and some brief sexual references.

— Reviewed by Cathy Carmode Lim

Cathy Carmode Lim has been reviewing books for newspapers for more than 20 years, two of which she was a book page editor. She founded Rated Reads in January 2008.

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  • Born Standing Up
  • by Steve Martin
  • Rated: High
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Reviewer: