Sunday, January 06, 2008
Born Standing Up
I really enjoyed this book about Steve Martin's life before he started making movies. I almost never read celebrity bios, but I've always found Steve Martin interesting, and am sorry I never saw him in the small venue days. A review in Slate got me interested.
(some great but hard to find showbiz autobios: errol flynn: sex fiend, tiny tim: compulsive complainer, rudy vallee: had an excuse for everything, harry richman: ended up buying dented cans in miami, all eccentric books.)
This is a nice book. He doesn't fuss over famous people. It's more like "this is how it was." And that "how", was Steve Martin, a strange isolated guy with ideas, who spent hours/years perfecting a unique act in Southern California, haunting magic shops, Disneyland, Knotts Berry Farm, and playing a banjo. It's a strangely honest book in a level way. He wanted to create an act that was totally original and he borrowed from all kinds of sources to do it. The way everyone creates...
It sounds as if, for awhile, the act was sort of magical. He'd have the audience in small clubs in the palm of his hand, and then actually lead them all outside. It was performance art that was actually entertaining. I appreciated what he revealed without portraying himself as smaller or greater than anyone else who's weird and exhibitionistic and shy. And I often burst out laughing at what he'd written.
Here's his King Tut video.