News & Features » Miscellany

You wouldn't know it from listening to him, but comedian Steven Wright loves his work.

The Wright Stuff

Steven Wright
Landmark Theater
8 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 14
Tickets: 262-8100
Info: 780-4213 "Performing is such a rush. There's thousands of people and there's so much energy. It's electric." This is how Steven Wright expresses his enthusiasm for doing his stand-up comedy act, which he brings to the Landmark Theater on Thursday, Oct. 14. And if it was anyone else, you would take his description at face value. But with Wright, who gained nationwide fame in the mid-'80s with his deadpan, emotionless delivery of surrealistic one-liners, you keep waiting for the punchline. It doesn't help that, even when the comedian is expressing his unbridled excitement, Wright's voice remains a nasally, near-monotone. His pace rarely moves beyond walk to trot, and gallop is out of the question. So you wait expectantly and sure enough, a typically off-center observation eventually sneaks out: "I love doing the show. It's like some bizarre meeting with a bunch of friends, only I don't know any of their names." Wright's enthusiasm for his work, such a contrast to his sluggish demeanor, is unexpected. But then a conversation with the comedian reveals many surprising things. For instance, Wright is an accomplished filmmaker, having won an Academy Award for Best Short Film in 1989 for "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings" which he co-wrote. Though he continues to travel the country doing his comedy act and takes the occasional role in a movie (most recently in Albert Brooks' "The Muse"), filmmaking has become his real passion. His latest short, "One Soldier," which he wrote, produced, directed and starred in, is currently making the rounds at international film festivals. "I like directing because there are like, a trillion decisions that you get to make. And [in movies] all the arts are going on at once. So I get to wear all these hats," says Wright, who even wrote some of the music for his new film. "I think I'll do another short, and then work up to a full-length film." Unfortunately, fans may have to wait a while for Wright's next work. His unhurried approach to life extends to his filmmaking. "I film for a few days, then take a break, take a couple days off," he says. The plot of "One Soldier" involves a post-Civil War soldier pondering the big questions of life, the unanswerable "whys" of the universe. But Wright himself is still more interested in the small questions, insightful gems that are as funny as they are profound. Examples: "Why isn't the word 'phonetic' spelled like it sounds?" or "If you're going to shoot a mime, would you use a silencer?" GQ magazine recently listed five of Wright's one-liners among the 75 funniest jokes of all time. His jokes are timeless because Wright never offers commentary on current events. "I don't cover topical things in my show, stuff that's big in the media. I think that stuff cancels itself out, humor-wise," Wright explains. "It's so in your face. I watch CNN but it doesn't enter my mind and come out as a joke, I'm more interested in things that aren't really talked about at all, like lint or the speed of light or

Add a comment