Born Standing Up

I did stand-up comedy for eighteen years. Ten of those years were spent learning, four years were spent refining, and four were spent in wild success. My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next. Enjoyment while performing was rare—enjoyment would have been an indulgent loss of focus that comedy cannot afford. After the shows, however, I experienced long hours of elation or misery depending on how the show went, because doing comedy alone onstage is the ego’s last stand.

— Steve Martin, Born Standing Up: A Comic’s Biography

 

Although I read Steve Martin’s excellent biography a few years ago I was reminded recently of these great thoughts in the opening paragraph. I would like to believe that I am charting a similar life course. It feels like I am in the refining years right now.

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