Comedian Steven Wright blows into town Saturday night
According to the Web site bio of sometimes film actor and writer, lifelong Boston Red Sox Fan and always-hilarious comedian Steven Wright, there's not much to tell.
It reads: "I was born. When I was 23 I started telling jokes. Then I started going on television and doing films. That's still what I am doing. The end."
However, during a recent telephone interview from his suburban Boston home, Wright, who wraps up a mini-tour of the East Coast this Saturday night at the Borgata, fills in a few blanks.
Such as his seemingly ironic love affair with the coffee bean.
"I love coffee," says Wright, who, over the course of more than 25 years as a stand-up has been dubbed everything from "deadpan" to "groggy" due to his unique, and often monotone, delivery.
"The thing is, I can be like wired up and I still look half asleep," Wright adds. "But I love coffee. It's one of my favorite things about being alive. I drink about three cups in the morning and during that time my mind is just extra heightened. I can't believe it's legal."
Last fall, Wright offered the hilarious Comedy Central stand-up special, When the Leaves Blow Away, his first TV special in 16 years. It has been embraced by long-time fans, as well as new ones, and has kept Wright busy. This spring, he's been touring the country in support of the recent DVD release (what a great gift for a funny Father's Day) which, aside from the stand-up special, delivers Wright's great 1999 short-film One Soldier (Jean-Paul Sartre meets Jim Jarmusch) as well as some bonus footage from a 1988 Boston club date.
It was earlier in that decade -- "August of '82," Wright is quick to note -- when the comic got his big break on the Tonight Show. He says it's still the highlight of his career.
"Your life could change, like my life did and many other people's, just by going on that show that one time," Wright recalls in his thick New England drawl. "I don't think there's a show like that now where everything could change from one appearance. That's how powerful that show was."
A growing national fan base blossomed for the young Wright just in time for the comedy club explosion during the second half of the 1980s. "Cities would have two or three [comedy] clubs," Wright remembers. "And it was all over the TV. And then it kind of went down. It keeps going down -- and then up again. For me, I'm just doing what I always did -- trying to write stuff and seeing what stuff works."
In 1985, Wright worked out a Grammy nomination for I Have A Pony, a comedy album that to this day stands among the best of the genre, offering such classic Wright-isms as "If sometimes you can't hear me, it's because I'm in parentheses," and "I bought some batteries, but they weren't included -- so I had to buy them again."
Film projects followed, including his acting debut in 1986's Desperately Seeking Susan (his favorite to work on) and many others, including Half-Baked, Reservoir Dogs and The Muse. In 1989, he co-wrote and starred in the Academy Award-winning best short film, The Appointments of Dennis Jennings.
At one point, he even attempted to write a film with the late novelist, Kurt Vonnegut.
"We had an idea that we were going to work on," Wright says of the author of such classics as Slaughterhouse Five and Breakfast of Champions. "But it didn't really happen. I don't remember why."
Wright's a long-time fan, having read some Vonnegut's novels numerous times.
"Sarah asked me to do it and I wanted to do whatever it took to facilitate her vision. Wow — what an actory answer ...What have I become?!"
"When that piece of thing was falling out of the sky I said that I was going to try to go outside and try to get hit by that thing and try to commit suicide, but nobody would see it as a suicide though, so I was going to try to take advantage of it."
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