Steven Wright is a legend. Rolling Stone and Comedy Central each ranked him in the top 25 on their lists of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. Granted those lists are subjective, but technically so are his Academy Award (Best Short Live-Action Film in 1989), two Emmy nominations and two Grammy nominations. Wright will be making a return trip to the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on Sept. 8.
One of my favorite movies is Half Baked ...
Dave Chappelle, what a genius.
Yeah, so you were The Guy on the Couch. But you’re a well-known comedian, you have a few lines in the movie, it wasn’t a cameo, you’re on the couch the whole time, so why was that role uncredited?
Because at the time it was like a cool thing to be in a movie and not have your name credited. In hindsight …
So it was just a cool thing to do?
I was told it was a cool thing to do. I didn’t think it was a cool thing to do. And I didn’t really care either way, so I just agreed.
Do you still have the same agent?
(Laughs) Yes, and he’s never told me his name, so he followed it through all the way. But more interesting than that is how I got in that movie. There was a show, I think Bob Costas had a talk show at like midnight for a couple years, and Dave Chappelle was the guest host and I was his guest. He’s interviewing me for like a half-hour and then when it was all over I said, “We should be in a movie sometime.” And he said, “I’m making a movie right now, do you want to be in it?” I said yes, and that was it.
Can you just carve out a few hours in your day to sit down and write jokes, or does it need to come naturally?
It’s from noticing everything. You’re just reacting to the world. … You know a mosaic painting, right? The little tiny chips. The world to me is a gigantic mosaic painting. You wake up and then you go to sleep. In that time of being awake, you’re bombarded with fragments and pieces of information. And some of those pieces can be linked together to be jokes. It’s just from noticing. I’m not trying to write jokes, I just notice.
You’re in comedy, and you do music, and you paint, and you’ve been a producer, you’re in front of the camera, behind the camera; how do you figure out what you want to do each day?
Well, I like to write. Every day I get up and I drink coffee. I have a really good imagination, but when I drink coffee it’s like I’m on drugs. I mean it’s even more. So then I just do whatever I want, really, but in the morning I just drink the coffee and I try to write whatever comes into my head. Most of the time it’s not even jokes, I just like words. I love words and I like to think and I like to write. So even though it doesn’t come out, it’s not out in the public as an article or a book, I just love writing.
Is that something that you need to do? Is your day thrown off if you don’t get out what is in your head in the morning?
I love doing it. I love to think. I love what’s in my head. I can’t believe the shit that’s in my head. I’m my own receptionist, like I’m a secretary to my brain. And if I add coffee to it … If I write an hour or two hours in the morning then I can do whatever I want the rest of the day. I love doing it. Yes, I need to do it because I love to do it. Do you drink coffee? You must.
I do, and I kinda feel like I’m missing the boat. It’s not the coffee you’re drinking.
(Laughs) Well, it’s been like that for many, many, many years. I remember saying to this woman I knew, “I just drink the coffee and then there’s the jokes.” She said, “Well, for you it is.”
[Wright then started interviewing me for a bit. Let’s skip ahead.]
Writing is thinking, really. It’s thinking and you put it down. So thinking is amazing. Thinking is fun. I feel very grateful my career is [that] I just think. I make shit up. It’s unbelievable. What were you gonna say? You were gonna say something.
I edit my text messages ...
My god! I was gonna bring that up and then I didn’t! I like writing so much that when I send a text I write it the correct way. The guy receiving it, he doesn’t give a shit. All I’m telling him is I’ll meet him probably around 11, maybe 12. But I make sure that it’s done in the right way.
Capitalization, none of this abbreviation, no “tku” thank you. F--- you, f--- you! I respect the words and I like actually writing the sentences even in a text.
When you’re up there on stage your main goal is to get laughs. Is your personal life like that? Are you being funny all the time or can you have hour-long conversations with no joking?
Hanging out with my friends, I have no pressure of being funny, but all my friends are funny. I laugh so much, I laugh with my friends constantly. I mean, we talk about serious stuff, too, but I can’t even remember having an hour conversation that was serious for an hour in my whole life. I remember being in Boston, we would drive to another city to do a show, three comedians, we’d drive, do the show and come back. The ride was better than the show.
Tickets: $48; 800-200-2882, foxwoods.com