I was first introduced to Steven Wright's deadpan humor in an HBO special in the '80s. I was babysitting for this lady and she had the special on while she was waiting for her (very late) date to show up.
Steven Wright, if you've never seen him, has a delivery that takes some getting used to--and there are probably a few people who never do get used to it. The lady (I use the term somewhat loosely as later that evening I would stand in the hallway outside her room while she vomited in a bowl. I was concerned she might asphyxiate on her own vomit and then I would be forced to decide between saving her with my Red Cross CPR skills and saving my sanity by not having to give mouth-to-mouth to a recently vomiting person. She made the decision somewhat easier by drunkenly screaming, "Get away from here!" between heaves, but anyway while the HBO special was on) the "lady" sat there, nervously tapping her foot and never cracked a smile. Just before her date showed up, she said, "Wow, this guy isn't funny at all."
Well, I thought she was wrong and I used the money she paid me for the evening to buy a comedy album (on cassette) of Steven's called I Have a Pony. I loved that tape to death, literally, memorized whole portions of it, forced everyone I know to listen to it and made quite a few converts along the way. Eventually, I replaced it with a CD version as I waited impatiently for new Steven Wright material.
I had just about given up hope when I was channel-surfing last month and came across a new special (new to me anyway) called When The Leaves Blow Away on Comedy Central. I watched it twice the first time and then recorded it so I could watch it some more.
--"A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently it wasn't first place."
--"I have to be asleep by one in the morning because my dreams are going to start then whether I'm sleeping or not."
--"I asked my girlfriend if she ever had sex with a woman. She said, 'No.' I said, 'It's fun, you should try it.' So she did, and now she's gone."
--"My doctor told me I shouldn't work out anymore until I was in better shape. I said, all right--don't send me a bill until I pay you."
--"In school, they told me practice makes perfect and then they told me nobody's perfect so I quit practicing."
...all of this delivered in Steven's signature monotone--rarely do you see him even start to crack a smile. Some people may find his delivery distracting, but to me it's part of the package--and, in a weird way, his jokes have to be stronger because he doesn't use any of the bells and whistles other comedians rely on.
Masked Mom's One-Word Review: Long-awaited. (And worth the wait, I'd like to add, but can't 'cuz that's just way over the word limit--I was probably cheating a little just using a hyphen, but, hell, Steven's worth it.)
Shoot, Shucks and Ducklings!
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