Friday, Feb. 3, 8:00 p.m. at the Ohio Theater
With his signature monotone deadpan delivery and thought-provoking style, comedian Steven Wright rose to fame in the 1980s after an appearance on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” established him a talent to watch for years to come. Born and raised in the Boston area, he speaks with a subtle drawl that starkly contrasts the surrealist oneliners he that make him famous. After graduating from Emerson College in 1978 with a degree in mass communications, Wright got his start in Boston area comedy clubs until his supposedly unexpected break with Johnny Carson. Contrasting the high energy performers of the ‘80s, Wright’s intelligent and mystical comedy intrigued audiences that flocked to his shows, culminating in a Grammy-nominated comedy album, “I Have a Pony,” and subsequent HBO special. To top this decade off, Wright won an Oscar in 1989 for his short film, “The Appointments of Dennis Jennings.” To add to his acting credits, he provided the voice for the radio DJ in “Reservoir Dogs” and had a role on the show “Mad About You.” Wright continues to do stand-up and got his second Grammy nomination for a comedy album in 2007. Widening his reach as a comedian, he began working with Louis C.K. in 2011 as a producer on “Louie” and actor on the Louis CK’s acclaimed web show, “Horace and Pete.” I had the chance to talk to Wright over the phone preceding the show and can say with the utmost confidence that he was incredibly funny, leaving me with jokes that I did not even start to get until he hung up. This included a fairly long joke—I think—that he prepares for shows by dressing up as the “second daughter” from “Little House on the Prairie” with an old costume from Buffalo, calling other a stalker and dropping tidbits of advice along the way.
Q: Why did you choose only Cleveland and Michigan for this set of tours?
A: I like to perform at certain times so I pick when and they tell me where. I have been to Cleveland many times before and have performed at different theaters
Q: Seems like you only do theaters now, why is that?
A: After I made some HBO specials more people came to see me, and there is less distraction.
Q: Should this show be expected to be similar to your “I Have a Pony” and “I Still Have a Pony” tapes or should the audience expect some newer stuff too?
A: [They should expect] stuff they haven’t seen, my act is like a painting that is never finished. Jokes come into my head randomly, like rain, and sometimes it won’t rain, so it sprinkles with a few jokes, then a lot of jokes [and] then no jokes.
Q: Do you prefer working with Louis C.K. on “Louie” or on “Horace and Pete?”
A: It doesn’t matter to me, [I enjoy] anything to do with Louis. Both experiences were great, [and he is] such a brilliant comedian, writer and director. Plus the actors he had on “Horace and Pete,” including Steve Buscemi, Edie Falco, Jessica Lange and Alan Alda were incredible.
Q: Biggest advice for college students?
A: Take risks [and] if you have some kind of goal or dream you want to do, don’t be afraid to try it. I am very introverted but always wanted to be a comedian, so I made myself go down to the club and do open mic—my entire career is because of this risk.
Q: How do you prepare for a stand-up show?
A: I spend a lot of time alone. I’ll do a little exercise and hang out in the hotel to save all my energy up for the show. I eat a Greek salad with chicken before, and reward myself with chocolate ice cream after.
Leaving me with the final thought that “the universe is underrated,” I left our conversation pretty starstruck even though we did not even meet in the flesh. Do not miss this comedic gem and experience Wright, his one-liners and his thoughts on life at the Ohio Theater on Friday, Feb. 3. Tickets are a tad pricey for a college student, but he is truly one of a kind.