A charming memoir tracking what the great comic characterizes as his “war years.”
Despite gaining renown as one of Saturday Night Live’s “wild and crazy guys,” Martin (The Pleasure of My Company: A Novella, 2004, etc.) didn’t set out in search of celebrity. From his boyhood forays onstage in the ’50s through the late ’70s, when he somewhat unwittingly became a huge star, he sought, above all, comic originality. Foregoing the common compromise made by young comedians that trades fresh and authentic hilarity for fame, Martin became famous on his own terms. During one period of his stand-up career, he purposefully developed an act entirely devoid of jokes, and he always approached his material with dedication and diligence. Martin offers an eloquent and exacting account of his fumbling early shticks, illuminating the type of humor, and humorists, that interested him the most. He set an unspoken deadline for himself—age 30—by which to have found success or to throw in the towel, but then abandoned it as that age came and went and he was still toiling on the road. After gigs on television shows like The Smothers Brothers and The Tonight Show, Martin’s popularity steadily increased. Some of the funniest material here is delivered in an offhand manner, often in the form of photo captions or narrative asides. Martin also offers an emotional—but not overly nostalgic—account of his relationship with his father, who was a distant and disapproving figure until the end of his life, when he and his son reconciled. In all of his relationships, whether familial or romantic, Martin approaches his subjects with generosity, warmth and integrity.
Heartfelt and very, very funny.