The Carolina Theatre and the N.C. Comedy Arts Festival will present award-winning stand-up comedian, actor, and author Steven Wright, who is as famous for his whimsical sense of humor and deadpan delivery and whose trademark long curly hair is instantly recognizable, at 8 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 10th, in the 1,016-seat Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre in downtown Durham, NC. With his untamed locks bouncing beneath a pork pie hat or baseball cap as he paces the stage, the 57-year-old Cambridge, MA native rattles off a series of wry one-liners — such as “What’s another word for thesaurus?” “Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm,” and “When everything is coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane” — zinger after zinger, punctuated by an occasional musical interlude. Wright’s acerbic comments about contemporary American life are, by turns, philosophical, ironic, or nonsensical — but always hilarious. For example: “I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.”
According to the Internet Movie Database, some more of Steven Wright’s choice quips include:
“I busted a mirror and got seven years bad luck. But my lawyer thinks he can get me five.”
“A friend of mine once sent me a postcard with a picture of the entire planet Earth taken from space. On the back it said ‘Wish you were here.'”
“Be nice to your children. After all, they are going to choose your nursing home.”
“Yeah, it’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to paint it!”
“If you think nobody cares about you, try missing a couple of payments.”
“We had a quicksand box in our backyard. I was an only child, eventually.”
“You can’t have it all … besides, where would you put it?”
As you might expect, Steven Wright’s official bio is a masterpiece of understatement, with tongue planted firmly in cheek:
In its succinct blurb on its website, The Carolina Theatre rises Steven Wright as a trailblazing comedian whom others try to imitate, and adds, “It was in 1982 when Wright got his big break after being booked for his first television appearance on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.’ The former ‘King of Late Night’ enjoyed Wright’s performance so much, he invited him to appear again within a week … a rarity on ‘The Tonight Show.’ His back-to-back appearances helped put his fledgling career into high gear. The comic soon found himself performing his offbeat routines on ‘Saturday Night Live’ and ‘Late Night with David Letterman,’ along with numerous trips back to ‘The Tonight Show.'”
But Steven Wright’s Comedy Central bio is more detailed:
“Academy Award® winner Steven Wright[, who won a 1989 Oscar® for Best Short Live-Action Film for co-writing ‘The Appointments of Dennis Jennings,’] is a prototype comedian that many others continually try to follow. One of four children, Wright was raised in Burlington, MA. Upon graduating from Emerson College and holding a bevy of odd jobs, Steven attended an ‘open mike’ audition and became a regular performer at Ding Ho’s Comedy Club and Chinese Restaurant in Cambridge, MA.
“It was during this time, in August of 1982, that Steven got his big break and was booked for his first ‘Tonight Show’ appearance. [K]ing of Late Night [Johnny Carson] enjoyed the performance so much he invited Steven to appear again within a week, a rarity on ‘The Tonight Show.’ His back-to-back appearances helped put his fledgling career into high gear. The comic soon found himself performing his off-beat routines on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ ‘Late Night with David Letterman,’ and numerous trips back to ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.’
“Wright expanded his comedy career to include comedy albums, film, and television appearances. His 1986 debut album, ‘I Have A Pony,’ earned him a Grammy nomination. In 1985, Steven starred in his first HBO Special ‘A Steven Wright Special.’ In 1989, Steven was honored with an Academy Award for Best Short Film for his film entitled ‘The Appointments of Dennis Jennings,’ in which he starred and co-wrote. Other stars of the film included ‘Roseanne’s’ Laurie Metcalf and British comedian Rowan Atkinson. In September of 1990, Steven starred in his second stand-up special for HBO called ‘Wicker Chairs and Gravity.’ The special included stand-up from The Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto and a short film shot on location in New York and New Jersey.
“Steven has been seen in numerous films including Desperately Seeking Susan , Mike Meyers’ So I Married an Axe Murderer , Oliver Stone’s Natural Born Killers , and Nora Ephron’s Mixed Nuts . Steven was the voice of the DJ, K-Billy in Reservoir Dogs  and starred with John Cleese and Jack Palance in New Line’s animated film, The Swan Princess  as the voice of Speed, the turtle. Steve also appeared as a sitcom actor in MGM’s Speechless  with Harry Shearer, and as a Mountie in the MGM release Canadian Bacon , opposite the late John Candy.
“In 1999, Steven played a guest starring role in Albert Brooks’ film The Muse, starring Brooks, Sharon Stone, Andie MacDowell, and Jeff Bridges. In 1998 he played a supporting role in the Universal release Half-Baked and was a featured voice in Babe 2: Pig in the City.
“Steven wrote, directed and stars in the 1999 short film, ‘One Soldier,’ the story of a man obsessed with the unanswerable questions in life. The film was screened at numerous film festivals and can be seen on the Independent Film Channel.
“Steven … shot a small role for the sequel to The Mask entitled The Son of the Mask . Steven can [also] be seen in the Jim Jarmusch film Coffee and Cigarettes .
“Steven Wright is a regular guest on ‘The Late Show with David Letterman,’ ‘The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,’ and ‘Late Night with Conan O’Brien.’ Steven Wright continues touring the U.S., Canada, and overseas.
“The website, http://www.stevenwright.com/, features Steven’s paintings, a song written and performed by Steven, written pieces, stand-up and film clips, tour dates and chat rooms. Through the site fans can purchase DVDs of Steven’s two short films, ‘The Appointments of Dennis Jennings’ and ‘One Soldier,’ as well as Steven’s first HBO stand-up special ‘A Steven Wright Special.'”
SECOND OPINION: Feb. 8th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Glenn McDonald: http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/02/08/2659907/steven-wright-is-just-being-himself.html.
The Carolina Theatre and N.C. Comedy Arts Festival present STEVEN WRIGHT at 8 p.m. Feb 10 in Fletcher Hall at The Carolina Theatre, 309 W. Morgan, St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.
TICKETS: $33.40-$54.90 (including fees).
Carolina Theatre Box Office: 888-241-8162, 919-560-3030, or http://www.carolinatheatre.org/tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/114779/1047435
VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.stevenwright.com/clips/index.html.
The Carolina Theatre: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/.
N.C. Comedy Arts Festival http://www.nccomedyarts.com/.
Steven Wright: http://www.stevenwright.com/index.shtml (official website), https://www.facebook.com/StevenWrightOfficial (his Facebook page), https://twitter.com/StevenWright (his Twitter account), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Wright (Wikipedia), and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0942833/ (Internet Movie Database).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Review, a FREE weekly e-mail arts newsletter. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Review.
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