I saw Steve Martin on The Daily Show earlier this week, where they were promoting the paperback copy of Born Standing Up. As I watched Martin on the show, I was reminded of home much I enjoyed listening to my copy of Let’s Get Small, one of his comedy albums. My library fortunately had a copy, so I grabbed it. Plus, who can resist a man in bunny ears?
As the subtitle suggests, this is a memoir of Martin’s stand up years and early life. Part of the reason that I picked this book up is because I knew that Martin had studied philosophy and language in college, and I knew that this had influenced his comedy. I wanted to see how it all came together.The people who know me know that I sometimes have a pretty surreal sense of humor. I love Steve Martin’s stand up; it’s silly and it’s bizarre and it’s smart.
As I read this book, I learned some of what I wanted to learn. But this book is really more of a reminiscence, a journey through Martin’s memories and mementos. This is about a 200 page book, but images of Martin’s early days take up a lot of page space. Perhaps the most valuable thing I learned in this book was why Martin gave up his stand up. You have to admire someone who has such artistic integrity that he can let it go when it’s no longer relevant, when it doesn’t grow and evolve any more, and when you’re ready to move on to the next thing.