Pocket Books, 2007
When Steve Martin suddenly became a top stand-up comic spouting nonsense, jokes without punchlines, and doing weird visual gags, it all seemed effortless. This book reveals how much work went into that overnight success.
As Martin says, "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."
In a conversational, amusing style, Martin talks about his years, starting as a teen-ager, doing magic at theme parks, failing but learning and documenting what he learned as he went along. It led to huge success.
When he become so popular that he could play huge arenas he found he was losing his connection with audiences and feeling stagnant. He stopped doing stand-up and went into films, again with major success. After that career, he switched to writing novels, again with success.
This is an entertaining account of his first career, inspirational if you don't mind the prospect of hard work. I think it includes lots of embedded lessons for anybody interested in writing or performing, especially (but not only) comedy.
(If you're writing your own book, first get mine: "Your Writing Coach," published by Nicholas Brealey and available from Amazon and other online and offline booksellers.)