Born Standing Up

I was alone with him the bedroom; his mind was alert but his body was failing. He said, almost buoyantly, “I’m ready now.” I sat on the edge of the bed, and another silence fell over us. Then he said, “I wish I could cry. I wish I could cry.”

At first I took this as a comment on his condition, but I am forever thankful that I pushed on. “What do you want to cry about?” I said.

“For all the love I received and couldn’t return.”

I felt a chill of familiarity. There was another lengthy silence as we looked into each other’s eyes. At last he said, “You did everything I wanted to do.”

“I did it for you.” I said. Then we wept for the lost years. I was glad I didn’t say the more complicated truth. “I did it because of you.” [Editor’s emphasis]

You know Steve, actually, you are not exactly correct.  It’s even more complicated.  You did it because of your father — and you.  It’s called Character and Temperament.


 His autobiography, Born Standing Up, is insightful, articulate, and candid.

There are many examples of famous Performer Artisans to point to, since they are the most visible personality type in our modern American society. Most Hollywood celebrities are Performer Artisans. However, most famous Performers are using other people’s material in their performance (whether it be in acting or music), so an insightful, articulate, and candid autobiography of the Performer Artisan is, in fact, very rare. Artisans, typically, are not particularly interested in the mulling over the past and subjecting themselves to deep introspection; they are for the here and now, or the opportunities for the future. Two other autobiographies, for example, that illustrate this point are Rickle’s Book, by Don Rickles, and Myself, by Bill Clinton. Rickles’ autobiography is short and candid (shadow written by his co-author) whereas Clinton’s is articulate and long. Both Rickles and Clinton put a gloss in their look back at themselves which is, of course, understandable because of their Temperament, but not particularly insightful.


Stephen Glenn “Steve” Martin, Performer Artisan, (born August 14, 1945) is an American honorary Academy Award winning actor, comedian, musician, author, playwright and producer.

Martin came to public notice as a writer for the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, and later became a frequent guest on The Tonight Show. In the 1970s, Martin performed his offbeat, absurdist comedy routines before packed houses on national tours. In 2004, Comedy Central ranked Martin at sixth place in a list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics.

Since the 1980s, having branched away from stand-up comedy, Martin has become a successful actor, as well as an author, playwright, pianist and banjo player, eventually earning Emmy, Grammy and American Comedy awards, among other honors. [Wikipedia, revised]

It was announced in September 2013 that the Board of Governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would award Martin an honorary Oscar at the Academy’s 5th Annual Governors Awards in November 2013.

Performers have the special ability, even among the Artisans, to delight those around them with their warmth, their good humor, and with their often extraordinary skills in music, comedy, and drama. Whether on the job, with friends, or with their families, Performers are exciting and full of fun, and their great social interest lies in stimulating those around them to take a break from work and worry, to lighten up and enjoy life. [Please Understand Me II]

Comedy is a difficult performance art. Acting can be done by novices — some kids can pick it up naturally. Deliberate comedy — stand up — takes years of practice, with a lot of bone crushing discouragement along the way. As Martin discusses his life and his comedy, one gets some sense of what he went though: the ups and the downs.

Although I have never thought much of Steve Martin as a comedian, for each person has his own sense of what is funny, many people love his comedy. On the other hand, I found his autobiography, as a Performer Artisan, quite intriguing. As he details growing up, he gives an insightful portrait of his family and describes how he viewed his comedy and its development. Moreover, it always seems that comedy comes from some degree of tragedy.  This is well known about comedy.

Martin gives us vivid sense of this with his description of his last day with his dying father, for he had not got along with his father practically all his life. This misunderstanding of human temperament served as a powerful driving force in Steve Martin’s life.

‘I felt a chill of familiarity. ‘

When a parent gives to their child, both laugh; when a child gives to their parent, both cry.

openquoteWhat is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke.closedquote  — Steve Martin

openquoteWith comedy, you have no place to go but more comedy, so you’re never off the hook.closedquote  — Steve Martin

openquoteI believe entertainment can aspire to be art, and can become art, but if you set out to make art you’re an idiot.closedquote  — Steve Martin

Other Performer Artisans include: Brittney GrinerJanis JoplinGene KrupaLouis Armstrong,Alex KarrasKim Jong UnPhyllis DillerJim CramerMagic JohnsonJosephine BakerWhitney HoustonMarilyn MonroeMichael Jackson and Elvis Presley.

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