Wild But Not Crazy
I was infatuated with Steve Martin from the start. Before his movies (which were never as good as his stand up), before "King Tut," before SNL. Here was a comedian with a new sensibility, both smart and silly, off the cuff but studied, wild but not really crazy.
His first film was The Jerk, but that wasn't his true persona (though director Carl Reiner thought it was). My friends and I saw him as one of us. Sure, more polished and professional, and with a lot more material, but someone who saw the world as we saw it, who communicated the absurdity of things and was able to be comic by commenting on comedy. As he puts it in his new book, Born Standing Up, his approach was to get the audience in "the helpless state of giddiness experienced by close friends tuned in to each other's sense of humor." Balloon animals and an arrow through the head weren't funny, but pretending they were, was.
His act was different, but the world caught on (or at least jumped on the bandwagon--I'm not sure if they all got it) and he became as big as you can get. His book mostly talks about the many years it took to get there, and how he found his persona through conscious search as much as instinct. I got the book last month and held off cracking the spine since I feared if I started I'd read it all in one gulp. I was right.