A blast from the past walked through the doors of The Carolina Theatre of Durham last Saturday night. Steven Wright made a name for himself in the 1970s as a deadpan comic with a delivery so monotone that you often wondered if he was awake. But his jokes can be so clever that you quickly realize that while his face is mostly expressionless, his mind is churning seamlessly from joke to joke. We’d guess that he told over 100 jokes in about 90 minutes — a remarkable feat.
For instance, he offers, “I stayed up one night playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.” Or “I woke up this morning and folded my bed back into a couch. Almost broke both my arms, because it’s not that kind of bed.”
We almost didn’t recognize Steven Wright when he took the stage, because he was sporting a full grey-flecked beard and mustache; and it made it harder to study his face and appreciate the stillness of his delivery. But his jokes still tickled, and the crowd clearly loved him. He even cracked a few uncharacteristic smiles himself during the evening. There were plenty of chuckles, belly laughs, and guffaws to be had.
With almost 40 years in the standup business, it’s amazing that a comic can remain relevant; but because Wright’s humor is devoid of politics and topical humor, it is timeless. In fact, Wright’s show is also refreshingly clean, with nary a curse word, scatological reference, or sexual innuendo the entire show. He has added some basic — very basic — guitar licks to the mix; but at 90 minutes, the show was the perfect length. And The Carolina Theatre does it right — you have enough leg room, and there is really not a bad seat in the house.
With the proliferation of bloated artists touring well past their prime, we’re glad to see that Steven Wright remains on top of his game. While he won’t fill the PNC Arena, he clearly hasn’t lost his voice or his audience.
SECOND OPINION: Oct. 8th Raleigh, NC News & Observer interview of Steven Wright, conducted by Glenn McDonald: http://www.newsobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article37975773.html; and Oct. 7th Durham, NC Indy Week preview by Craig D. Lindsey: http://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/stand-up-veteran-steven-wright-set-the-scene-for-todays-mumblecore-comedy/Content?oid=4794492. (Note: To read Triangle Arts and Entertainment’s online version of the Oct. 8th Triangle Review preview by Robert W. McDowell, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2015/10/steven-wright-will-bring-his-whimsy-and-deadpan-delivery-to-the-carolina-theatre-at-8-p-m-oct-10th/.)
STEVEN WRIGHT (The Carolina Theatre of Durham, Oct. 10 in Fletcher Hall in Durham, NC). SHOW: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/events/steven-wright-1 and https://www.facebook.com/events/1583488601906862/. VIDEO PREVIEWS: http://www.stevenwright.com/clips/. PRESENTER: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/, https://www.facebook.com/CarolinaTheatreDurham, and https://twitter.com/CarolinaDurham. BLOG: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/blog. VENUE: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/about-us/venue-descriptions. DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.carolinatheatre.org/directions. OTHER LINKS: Steven Wright (comedian): http://www.stevenwright.com/ (official website), http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0942833/ (Internet Movie Database), https://www.facebook.com/StevenWrightOfficial (Facebook page), https://twitter.com/StevenWright (Twitter page), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steven_Wright (Wikipedia). [RUN HAS CONCLUDED.]
Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.