I chose my third and final audiobook for the year on an impulse. “Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life”, by Steve Martin is not similar to the usual kind of books that I read. Which is exactly why I chose it. I felt I needed a break from the rather serious books I have recently been reading (more on that later) and thought that listening to a comedian read his own book would be taking full advantage of the medium of audiobooks. Frankly, I imagined that listening to this book would be somewhat like listening to Trevor Noah read “Born a Crime”, which I really enjoyed.
It’s an unfair comparison. Not only did Trevor Noah have a truly unusual childhood, but his book also does an amazing job of showing how people from different cultural backgrounds may perceive events from very different perspectives and what that can lead to.
That’s not Steve Martin’s goal. Once I settled down and began accepting the book for what it was (and to the fact that Martin doesn’t “act out” voices of characters) I rather enjoyed it. Steve Martin realized early on, the hard way, that if he waited to be “discovered” at some audition he would never get anywhere. There was none of this “instant stardom” some of my students seem to fantasize about. He didn’t have any mentors to show him the way and he worked very hard at honing his profession.
In short, a tale of grit.
I also found it very interesting that a comedian “grew” out of a silent, rigid family setting.
I’m not a big fan of “slapstick” humor and mainly watched Martin in movies with my sons when they were younger, but it’s pretty amazing to learn about all that happens, or is needed, in order to seem to be “clowning around.”