Born Standing Up

Born Standing Up by Steve Martin. Martin has a new movie coming out on Friday, his second attempt at performing one of the most fantastic comedy roles ever created, the bungling French detective Jacques Clouseau. Martin brings his own style to the character and although it pales in comparison to the original work done by the marvelous Peter Sellers, it has some merit and is worth seeing. What is interesting about this autobiographical book is that one gets to see how Martin’s comedy developed from its most embryonic stages to the point where he was the most popular performer in the world at one point. Martin is an incredibly intelligent man and his story is like watching a pyramid being built, each stone sliding into its perfect spot. One sees how each experience growing up contributed to his understanding of comedy and performing, whether it was taking philosophy classes at various Southern California colleges, watching his co-workers at Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm or reading books on vaudeville. The story continues through his days at Saturday Night Live and the beginnings of his movie career and ends with his mother’s death in 2002. Unlike the punchline-driven I Killed, this work is much more academic in nature. It should be part of any course curriculum related to humor and required reading for anyone considering a career in comedy because it shows how much hard work and intelligence is necessary to be a professional comedian.

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