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“I Was Strictly Monday Night Quality”

Born Standing UpWhen I was in high school I was deeply engrossed in improv comedy. I liked that I didn’t have to plan or prepare anything, which suited my procrastinative tendencies quite nicely. I liked jokes, I liked laughing and I liked trying to make people laugh. While I wasn’t always successful (hardly ever) I was good at making myself laugh at least. What I am trying to get across is that I love, and always have loved, the idea of “funny.” Maybe that is why I’ve always admired Steve Martin.

One night while out with friends – probably seeing some throw-away movie at Fashion Island – I casually picked up a copy of Pure Drivel from Barnes & Noble. That night I read the short book from cover to cover, twice. After that I carried the book around with me everywhere and it now has the sun-stained pages to prove it. At any given moment I could grab it, read a quick story like “A Word from the Words” and it would cheer me up right quick.

“We can hang around with the tough utilitarian words, like the, and have a few beers, or we can wander over and visit the lofty perambulate, who turned out to be a very nice verb with a lovely wife, tutu.”

It’s been an important book in my life for reasons that may elude you, but now I have found yet another Martin-penned influence to admire. Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life is Steve Martin’s memoir and one of the most interesting and inspiring books I have listened to in forever.

I say “listened” because I felt compelled to purchase the audio book upon learning that it was read by the author. Experiencing the book in this way was fascinating. Not only is Martin an incredible reader, but because he is reading his own material and recalling personal memories, some tragic and some joyful, you are able to really be there with him in each moment. That may sound cheesy, but it’s true.

Martin’s journey from selling Disneyland guidebooks to performing at Knott’s to suffering through slumps to writing for television to SNL to sellout crowds to leaving the stage was so amazingly motivating – it demands you question your own self-worth. At least it demanded that of me.

I listened to the book on my way to and from work, Monday through Wednesday, and when I reached my front door last night I was so sad. After the final words were spoken, his banjo played a simple “that’s all folks” type conclusion and I was so upset that I would no longer be accompanied by Steve on my morning commute. I am fairly positive you’ll share my sentiments.

Steve Martin is a wonderful writer, using words economically and deliberately. He is a pleasure to listen to and, if you have ever been interested in entertainment or comedy, he’s totally enlightening. A great read and a terrific listen, Born Standing Up is a new favorite of mine.

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4 Responses

  1. I had a very similar experience with this audiobook. My mom gave it to me for Christmas last year, and I listened to it while stuck in traffic on the way to and from work…after finishing the book, I quit my job a week later and decided to give chasing the dream one more shot.

    Also, the audiobook is essential (instead of the printed one) because there’s banjo on it! Banjo people!!

  2. I’m so glad you’re with me on this, Mike! It seems like everyone I talk to about this is in total agreement. It’s a life-changer I think – I know.

  3. Not as life-changing as the dog in the scuba suit perhaps, but pretty life-changing nonetheless.

  4. I know. I regretted that statement immediately.

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