There are a few things you might like to know about comedian Steven Wright.
He calls himself a "peripheral visionary." He has "a decaffeinated coffee table." His "life is not based on a true story." He thinks that "if heat rises, heaven might actually be hotter than hell." And he hates it when writers do stories on him that use the same puns over and over, for instance, articles that are headlined, "the Wright Stuff."
On Thursday, Nov. 29, Wright will bring his off-center brand of humor to Morristown when he performs at the Mayo Performing Arts Center.
There are many, many standup comedians out there, but Wright's deadpan absurdist wit is well-recognized as his own. Ever since his first gig—three minutes in 1979 at an open mike in Boston—Wright, 56, has been honing surreal one-liners.
"The idea and the wording of a joke comes to me in ten seconds," the Massachusetts native said. "In my mind, there is only one way for the joke to be worded."
Wright's goal is to "get the point across in the fewest words," he said. He'll test out a joke three times and if it doesn't get a laugh, it's gone.
Although his physical demeanor and lethargic delivery suggest otherwise, Wright said his mind is constantly working and editing everything around him. "I can't stand people who go on and on," he said. "I'll be visiting people and when I leave, I'll think of a way that they could have told their story. When I write text messages, I write exactly to the point."
On stage "I don't want to be standing there without people laughing," he said—hence his trademark brevity. Even stories are constructed as a series of punchlines.
"I like performing," Wright said. "It's not a normal thing—it's like walking a tight rope. The tension from the audience makes it exciting."
Although he claims to have just enough energy "to get through the day and make it to bed," Wright counted himself fortunate. "I feel so lucky to have a career where I make stuff up from my imagination, it's unbelievable."
Steven Wright will perform on Thursday, Nov. 29 at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown. .