Born Standing Up by Steve Martin chronicles his struggle with, rise in and departure from stand-up comedy. He's brilliant and I'm a HUGE fan of a few of the things he's done (Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Lonely Guy and The Pleasure of My Company for example.
This book is deeply touching. He shares at an intimate level what shaped him as a person and a stand-up comic. The majority of the book deals with his struggle and early rise to stardom. It's a rollicking ride through an unfamiliar era (as I was mostly pooping my pants those days) and a wonderful study in how relationships and experiences (sometimes in instances) shape our behavior.
His sudden departure from stand up comedy feels almost as sudden in the book which is appealingly congruent.
I'm trying stand-up comedy out and am to a certain extent in awe of him, but at the same time feel like he's so real that anything is possible. It's clear however that his deep and wide subject matter knowledge (philosophy, logic, psychology, art, etc.) combined with a (at times) tough upbringing build the foundation for his material.
One small point in the book that really captured my heart was him describing his favorite scene in The Jerk. In the scene he and Bernadette Peters are walking on the beach at night singing a lovely song "Tonight, You Belong to Me". That scene has brought me to tears in the past because of it's sweet beauty and I've hummed or sung it rocking babies to sleep in my arms. It felt connecting that it's what he liked best.
The book zips along at a comfortable and joyous pace. Thankfully he's his chatty self like when he describes a male director (John Frankenheimer) who hit on his then girlfriend unsuccessfully.
Many other examples of like that make it feel like he is right in front of you telling the story and it makes it all the more enjoyable.
One day, if I'm lucky, I'll meet Steve Martin and say to him: "Hello, I'm Tim."