Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Standing Down

I fell under the spell of many Steves when I was young: Spielberg, King, Ray Vaughan. But in the Fall of 1978 I held no Steve higher than the white-suited Mr. Martin. From his banjo-laden stand-up on the Tonight Show to the astute silliness of Let’s Get Small;. I considered myself an early disciple of the man who would become The Jerk. This was less sanguine for my family; most of whom didn’t quite get the spastic new comedian, let alone my eleven year old interpretations of say,The Cruel Shoes. I however smelled Comedy Gold, and long before he hit critical mass with SNL and King Tut, I studied every dorky nuance of this swaggering idiot’s stage persona. I even headlined a week of campfire performances at Boy Scout Camp once, recycling much of his cleaner material to an audience of sugar-fed Tenderfeet and their ember-throwing elders. It was an inauspicious beginning and merciful end to my stand-up career...

Young LoserThirty years later I'm still a Steve Martin fan, as long as you don't try to drag me to one of his movies. Whereas my kids think of him as Father of the Bride, I know him better as that guy in the white three-piece suit and bunny ears. Which is why I consider Born Standing Up to be such treasure. Smartly written and w-a-y too short, the book recounts Martin's journey from intellectual goofball to cutting edge comedian, with every painfully bad performance along the way. If his fledgling act doesn't win you over, his work ethic and determination certainly do. I found it every bit insightful (and inspiring) as Stephen King's On Writing and a good deal giddier. In my favorite scene, a young Martin huddles in a comedy club in nearby Winston-Salem, circa 1975. "This town smells like a cigarette." he writes, wallowing in his backwaters journal. Months later his luck would change and within a few years, nerds like me would sport arrows through their heads in drooling supplication.

No wonder he quit doing stand-up...

5 comments:

FlutePrayer said...

But never at dusk...I caught that in your vacation post and wondered if you were as big a fan as I. I listened to the audio book of Steve Martin reading Born Standing Up. It was the best. So, you go to Paris, France...

turdpolisher said...

Let's Get Small was my absolute favorite. Along with Bill Cosby's Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Man . . . Right, there's nothing funnier.

Anonymous said...

For your morning "Martin" fix, try you-tubing-ing "The great Fly dini"
Wished I could have seen Johnny Carson losing it, watching the master at work.

in-gun-ear said...

Help him! Help him! He spoke French!!

Anonymous said...

Dead men don't wear plad.
oh, did I laugh.

David/sitbonzo