Steven Wright

Seen at the Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, February 9, 2013

I don't remember the first time I heard Steven Wright's first album, I Have a Pony (Amazon: CD/DVD/MP3; MP3). I do know, however, that it is quite possibly my mother's favorite comedy album and also that it never, ever seems to get old. Wright was one of those comedians who would come up in conversation every once in a while, "Where is he?" Mostly because he had only the one album and two comedy television specials.

Then finally in 2006/2007, he had another comedy special which eventually resulted in his second album, I Still Have a Pony (Amazon: CD/MP3; DVD; MP3). That was perhaps the easiest Xmas gift I've ever picked out for my mom.

Anyway, this whole time I had never seen Wright live--and that was rectified last night. He came to the Variety Playhouse and did about seventy minutes or so of fairly non-stop insanity. Yes, there was the requisite amount of one shot bits delivered with deadpan accuracy. Only a few were from the first album and having not listened to the second one as often as Pony #1 (it did have about a two decade head start, after all), I couldn't say exactly how much was new vs. established material. But it frankly didn't matter. Even the bits we'd all heard before had the audience losing their minds.

And some repeated endings--people in Steven Wright stories either wind up "weeping openly" or asking him, "What the hell are you talking about?"--stay funny throughout the show. (He also seems to get arrested in his stories quite often. Hmm.) And perhaps he cracked a smile once or twice--once he actually responded to himself, "What?"--but otherwise, it was just a random assault of surrealism.

I would be fascinated to know if he has the bits in order in his head or just says, "Time to rummage in the shoebox in my head for ten minutes before the next time I pick up the guitar." Speaking of which, he performed four songs: "Friends of Mine," "The Kitten Song," "The Mumbles Song" and the (I think) new "I Love My Phone More Than You."

For fans of the man, you should definitely try and catch him live. There's just something about his material that never gets old--and hearing it live just takes it up a notch. Quite recommended.