Northeast Times

A lifetime of laughter

Loc­al laughs: Steven Wright will per­form at the Keswick Theatre on Nov. 3.

OK, so with his dead­pan ex­pres­sion and seem­ingly life­less de­liv­ery, Mr. Per­son­al­ity he’s not. But over the last three dec­ades, dour comedi­an Steven Wright’s suc­cess has grown to in­clude re­cur­ring TV roles, film ap­pear­ances and even an Academy Award for a short film titled The Ap­point­ment of Den­nis Jen­nings.

Per­haps that’s be­cause so many can re­late to his off-cen­ter, para­noid world view ex­pressed in such lines as, “I re­mem­ber when I was in the womb. I was over on the right.”

Fifty-eight-year-old Wright will con­tin­ue to amuse audi­ences when he takes cen­ter stage at the Keswick Theatre in Glen­side on Nov. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

One of four chil­dren, Wright, who was raised in Bur­l­ing­ton, Mass., said al­though he was nev­er a class clown, he did amuse his little group of friends.

“I nev­er said any­thing to make the class turn around and look at me. But out­side of school, I was very funny with my bud­dies.”

Around the time he was 14 or 15, he began watch­ing The To­night Show Star­ring Johnny Car­son and fan­tas­iz­ing about be­ing on the show.

“I’d watch Johnny do his mono­logues and all the comedi­ans he had on his show, es­pe­cially George Carlin and Woody Al­len. I’d watch these people mak­ing stuff up, mak­ing people laugh, and sud­denly I got it in­to my head that that’s what I wanted to do, too,” Wright re­called. “But I was ex­tremely nervous and had a fear of pub­lic speak­ing, even though I knew this was what I wanted to do.”

Too nervous to go to New York or Los Angeles to pur­sue his dream, Wright sud­denly found him­self in the right place at the right time when a com­edy club opened near him in Bo­ston.

“I was 23 years old by then and knew if I was ever go­ing to go after my dream, it was now or nev­er. So I went to open mic night and forced my­self to do stan­dup,” Wright said.

Well, it worked, and not long af­ter­ward Wright got his big break and filled a fantasy when he was booked for his first To­night Show ap­pear­ance, where he was a hit. Al­bums, ap­pear­ances on tele­vi­sion and oth­er late night shows, films and so much more fol­lowed.

When he works, he’s of­ten defined as a “clean com­ic.” Ac­cord­ing to Wright, he was brought up not to swear in front of people.

“Oh, it might be all right in front of your friends but not in front of groups of people. Plus, the fact when I star­ted out HBO was just gear­ing up, so I didn’t want to pile up ma­ter­i­al that I couldn’t do on net­work TV if I got the chance.”

And, as if to com­plete a circle, on June 15, 2013, Wright re­ceived The Johnny Car­son Com­edy Le­gend Award. The award is giv­en each year to a cel­eb­rated comedi­an who has been in­flu­enced by Car­son in some way and has left his or her mark on the com­edy world. 

“I know I’m very, very lucky,” Wright con­cluded. “I feel as though when I work, I really get to play like a little kid. In­stead of hav­ing to go to a fact­ory every day, or do something I hate to do, I get to do everything I love do­ing.” ••

For times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-572-7650. 

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