I've always had some mixed feelings for Steve Martin. The Jerk is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen, and from what I've heard of his early stand-up and SNL work, he was sort of a genius. Plus, he was often on The Muppet Show, which is awesome. But nowadays...Cheaper by the Dozen? The Pink Panther? These aren't just bad; given who made them, they're embarrassing.
However, Steve Martin is also an author. Sometimes his books become movies that are better than they should be (Shopgirl), and sometimes they do not (all of the other ones). His most recent, though, is his memoir Born Standing Up, a lucid and clever account of his early years, from his being a Disneyland employee on up to The Jerk and beyond. In reading, I realized something: this is where Steve Martin's been. It's like he's sleepwalking through the movies he's in and pouring all of his talent onto the printed page. A few excerpts:
"[Mitzi, my girlfriend] had been swept away by director John Frankenheimer, who, twenty years later, tried and failed to seduce my wife, the actress Victoria Tennant, whom he was directing in a movie. Mitzi was simply too alluring to be left alone in a foreign country, and I was too hormonal to be left alone in Hollywood. Incidentally, Frankenheimer died a few years ago, but it was not I who killed him."
"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 could find more, but I won't. I'll simply urge you to read it, because it's a quick read, and it's hilarious, and it's poignant, and it's oh-so-worth it.