THE BLOG
07/03/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

What's the Greatest Book Ever About the Business of Show? A Wild and Crazy Late Book Review

On the off chance that someone out there in HuffPost-land hasn't already read Steve Martin's Born Standing Up, I thought I would point out that having just finished it, this may be for my money the single greatest book ever written about the business of show.

More specifically, Born Standing Up may be the least show bizzy book about show business. In a business full of name-dropping, credit-grabbing, spotlight-seeking attention whores -- see me and pretty much everyone else I've run into -- Steve Martin has always stood apart. Having interviewed Martin for Rolling Stone and worked around him on a few TV events over the years, I can confirm that Steve Martin seems neither wild nor crazy, with a personal temperament far closer to a wry but thoughtful academic than your standard issue lounge lizard.

Accordingly, Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life offers a few things show business books rarely do -- a sense of actual perspective that lifts it out of the self-promotional world and into a more literary zone. This book -- about how Martin became an arena comedy act and why he stopped -- is funny like life is funny, which means at times it's quite sad too. But mostly, it feels exceptionally truthful, insightful and -- dare I say it -- occasionally profound examination of what can be a shallow world.

Back when I was just a punk kid, my late great father and mother took my brother, sister and I to our first-ever concert -- the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band at Carnegie Hall. Steve Martin was the Dirt Band's opening act, and when my bluegrass loving dad saw this guy in a suit and an arrow through his head take the Carnegie stage, he was instantly unimpressed. "That man will never make it in show business," Dad told me.

My father -- who was almost always right -- got that one wrong. Steve Martin made it just fine. In fact, my kids still think he's cool. Born Standing Up tells you what made Stevie run, how he made it, and suggests why he had to sit down from standing up. For my money --and I actually paid for it -- this may be the best book ever about the business of show ever written. If you think you've read a better one, please name it here and now.