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Born Standing Up

Born Standing Up

“But there was a problem. At age eighteen, I had absolutely no gifts. I could not sing or dance, and the only acting I did was really just shouting. Thankfully, perseverance is a great substitute for talent.”

Just finished Steve Martin’s latest “Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life” and felt as though I got to know an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years. Together with one of my closest neighborhood friends growing up, we listened to each one of Mr. Martin’s albums … over and over. Reading through the book, I knew the punchline (and pretty much every other line) before he finished writing it.

I’m also thrilled that I learned how to get my “highlights” out of my Kindle. It will help me remember what I want from books.

He talks about his time onstage and you can only envy the passion he has for his craft.

On the road, the daylight hours moved slowly, filled with aimless wandering through malls and museums. But at night, onstage, every second mattered. Every gesture mattered. The few hours I spent in the clubs and coffee-houses seemed like a full existence.

He knew that to be a star he needed to be bigger than his jokes than his stage time. He had to go home with his audience, they had to take him around with them afterwards and not forget him.

I believed it was important to be funny now, while the audience was watching, but it was also important to be funny later, when the audience was home and thinking about it. I didn’t worry if a bit got no response, as long as I believed it had enough strangeness to linger.

He gave hope for those of us who feel we don’t have a monopoly on natural ability–the hope that if we just keep at it, keep trying hard and don’t give up, we can achieve some level of success.

Despite a lack of natural ability, I did have the one element necessary to all early creativity: naïveté, that fabulous quality that keeps you from knowing just how unsuited you are for what you are about to do.

Mr. Martin is a fantastic example of following your dream, working hard, focusing on what he thought was important and not necessarily listening to all of the critics, keeping that focus and working hard.

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