Peter K the comedian recommended this to me as one of the best books about comedians and comedy. It’s good, it’s good.
Martin’s autobiographical tale of his entry into standup comedy is surprisingly straightforward. He remembers the first comics he ever saw and stole work from, giving credit where it’s due; he recounts books, people, and chance remarks that influenced his career path. Club owners and other performers receive complimentary namechecks, as do old girlfriends. The climb to the top was long, lonely, and hard. He doesn’t romanticize the getting of comic knowledge and timing, and doesn’t invent a self-serving story of his inner genius unfolding in solitude to overwhelm the world. From losing the first tepid 20 minutes of material accumulated from gag books and other performers to amassing 4 hours of screamingly funny original humor took a long time (10 years) and a lot of work.
It’s a seemingly unvarnished story of a fairly unhappy childhood, and an escape at age 11 into… working at Disneyland. To avoid this having too much flavor of a bad high school book report, I’ll merely say that it’s an interesting quick read that gives a great deal of insight into the first leg of an impressive and eclectic career.
One excellent observation Martin makes:
[…] Consistent work improved my act. I learned a lesson: It was easy to be great. Every entertainer has a night when everything is clicking. These nights are accidental and statistical: Like lucky cards in poker, you can count on them occurring over time. What was hard was to be good, consistently good, night after night, no matter what the abominable circumstances.
I’m only perturbed by the fact that in the jacket blurb, Martin doesn’t mention starring in All Of Me. If you haven’t seen it, it’s one of the greatest movies involving physical comedy I’ve ever seen. And Lily Tomlin’s in it, too. Also Selma Diamond.
Please not to be forgetting Martin’s banjo album The Crow. Quite boss.
He’s got a website.http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xasala