By Dave Schwensen
The Morning Journal Arcade, January 18, 2002. Lorain, Ohio.
By just being himself, Steven Wright has become one of the most popular comedians working today. With a natural
humor that relies on logic, the absurd, and the just plain weird, he uses his deadpan and monotone delivery to
keep audiences laughing wherever he performs, which should include the Lorain Palace Civic Center Tuesday evening.
Often named as an influence for a younger generation of comedians (along with Carlin, Cosby, Pryor, and another
relative newcomer, Jerry Seinfeld), Wright has expanded his career to more than just the comedy stage. In 1986 his debut
comedy album, "I Have A Pony," earned a Grammy nomination, and the next year he won an Academy Award for Best Short Film
for his movie, "The Appointments of Dennis Jennings," in which he starred and co-wrote.
A native of Boston and graduate of Emerson College, Wright got his first big comedy break with an appearnace on "The Tonight
Show With Johnny Caron" in 1982. Carson was so impressed with the new comic that he invited him back to his show the
following week. Soon he was appearing on "Saturday Night Live" and "Late Night With David Letterman" and made countless
more appearances on "The Tonight Show."
Between comedy tours, albums and television specials, Wright has a successful movie career that began with a role in the
blockbuster film, "Desperately Seeking Susan," also starring a young Madonna. His other appearances include "Stars and
Bars," "So I Married an Ax Murderer," "Natural Born Killers," "Mixed Nuts," "Canadian Bacon," and cult favorite
"I loved watching Johnny Carson when I was a kid," Wright told Arcade in his trademark monotone delivery during an
exclusive interview. "I loved the comedians he had on. Some of them I can remember, and some of them that I don't
remember. Just the idea of him introducing these comedians, and they'd come on and they'd talk to him and it was
like, "That's what I'd like to do."
"I was thinking this when I was, like, 15 or 16 years old." he continued. "I didn't do anything until I got out of
college. It stayed in my mind, but I thought this isn't really gonna happen. I better go to college because I'm never
really gonna be a comedian. So I went to school and then I read about a comedy club that had opened up in Boston. So
here's a club in Boston and I thought, "'Well, now I have to go down and see if I can do this because it's been my dream
for years.' So I went to the open mike, and I kept going back to the open mike and then it started working. But from
watching 'The Tonight Show' is why I pursued it."
"Did you you ever think your comedy career would lead to an Academy Award?" he was asked.
"No," he said. "I only wanted to go on 'The Tonight Show.' I fantasized about being on 'The Tonight Show,' being
a comedian and acting in some movies. Those things I thought of, but I never even thought of winning an Academy Award.
I never even daydreamed about it. It was a very fluke thing."
"Where do you have the award?"
"Right now it's in storage," he said.
"You don't have it displayed at your home?!"
"No, it's a long story...," he laughed. "It's a whole other film about where it is."
Wright's on-stage persona and comedic delivery is vastly different than anyone else. Was the monotone and deadpan
act something he researched? Or did it just come naturally?
"I was just trying to think of things that were funny," he said. "The fact that they were these little abstract things
didn't even enter my mind. It wasn't until a year later when someone wrote about it in a Boston paper that it even had
adjectives to it. There was no 'plan.' It wasn't like, 'Oh, if I do this, this will be different.' It's the way I think
and this is the way I speak. So I'm lucky the combination is this distinct thing."
After years of living in Los Angeles and New York City, Wright moved back to his native New England. He continues to
be one of the unique acts who keeps Boston near the top of the comedy map.
"It's still a great place to do comedy, but like it was in the '80s." he explaied. "The thing about Boston is it has
such diverse people. The characters..."
"What about future plans?" he was asked.
"I'm just going on the road a lot, " he said.
"Do you like going on the road?"
"Yeah, I do," he admitted. "I go through phases where I don't. I've always loved doing the show, but sometimes the
travel gets to me."
In addition to comedy and films, Wright is a musician and artist. His guitar playing and unique songs bring hysterics
from audiences during his performances, while his more serious side can be seen in his paintings. Many are on view at
his Web site, http://www.stevenwright.com/.
"I do that off and on," he said. "You see, comedy has to be so logical. I'm not complaining, it's just how it is. There's
so much logic to comedy. And the painting, it doesn't need any. It can be a pure expression from your subconcious. It can
just be weird and doesn't have to make sense at all. So it's an outlet for me. I've been painting since I was in high school."
Lucky for us, Wright will be very logical - and funny - this tuesday night in Lorain. Be prepared to laugh - a lot.