Magician, comedian, actor, writer, producer, musician, and author. Steve Martin is many things more than just a “wild and crazy guy,” and how that all came to be is found in his autobiography Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Life.

This may be one of the more realistic show business books I have read in recent memory. This isn’t a book about name-dropping or what happens after success. This is a book about how Steve Martin reached the top. While you can take some of the lessons to heart on your own, this is not a how-to; this is just a how it happened.

I appreciate that Martin is straightforward. He discusses his struggles and his decisions, but without all of the wisps of “the road not taken.” He isn’t writing himself into psychoanalysis. He’s writing to let people know where he was. 

To me, that’s the most interesting part of this book. It’s not going to tell you much about the movies Steve Martin has starred in, though with a copyright of 2007, this book could have covered quite a few. This book isn’t even going to cover the movies he’s written, outside of The Jerk, his first. 

This book isn’t about what happens when you get to the top, or how to stay there. It’s only about how Steve Martin got to the top. It’s about the struggle of finding himself and his comedy. It’s about his struggle to work towards something he believed in.

It’s about a man who leaves comfort, the life of some television comedy writers, to be a comedian on the stage, alone, performing without a net or partner, with no other writers and no fallback. It was just him, the microphone, and the audience. 

Sure, it’s Steve Martin, so there’s some props and a banjo along the way, but the point is, he chose to leave comedy writing. He chose to go out on the road. He literally took the road less traveled at a time when there were no comedy clubs, and most often comedy was second fiddle to music.

His struggles with that road are documented in this book. So is his belief that despite the struggle, he chose the right path. This isn’t a self-help book, but it is one that focuses on making decisions and sticking to them.

You don’t have to be a Steve Martin fan to appreciate this book. I’d be interested, however, to hear what those of you who discovered him from his television performance on “Only Murders in the Building” as opposed to “Saturday Night Live” would make of this book. If you aren’t aware of his comedic genius on the stage, you’re in for a treat, and if you are… Then you’re in for some reminiscing.