Friday, June 12, 2009

Turns out Steve Martin is Awesome

I know everyone already knows that. But I'm referring to his literary offerings and not the things he has done on stage or screen.

I've listened to two of his audio books in the past month and while I liked one a bit more than the other I must mention a certain little thing first. He reads them HIMSELF! How cool is that? What can give a book on cd more legitimacy than when the author does it? Especially since one of them is a memoir. It gives the books a very personal touch, as if Steve's taking the time to sit down in the next chair over and read his book to you himself. So neat.

The first book in question is Born Standing Up, a memoir from his time in standup comedy until he made the conversion to movies. He recounts his relationship with his family (which was always very distant for his first few decades), when he got his first taste of standup working at Disneyland at age 6, and when he first got on stage himself a few years later at Knott’s Berry Farm. He also goes into trying to survive on an act that, when he started, was not even close to being in style and that in the end he was glad to give it up because it was too stressful and, being that he was one-man show on tour for over a decade, very lonely. Once he finally started getting popular, he was terrified at the premiere of the then-new Saturday Night Live, as he thought it would ruin his act and make him mainstream, but it was there that he met people (and continued to meet people) with which he formed strong bonds. I especially liked his description of the 50's and 60's from an entertainment industry standpoint- at one point he was dating the daughter of a suspected communist film director during The Red Scare.

Another little gift is that on the audio book, each chapter has a frantic little banjo solo that Martin wrote and played himself. What more could you need? He even released a banjo album this past month. I haven't heard it yet but I'm sure it will be, at the very least, interesting.


Nemesis said...

You have inspired me. There was a copy of the audiobook on the shelf and I'll be putting it on my iPod for potential Alaska-flight-listening. Thanks!