There was a point during the stand-up performance of comedian Steven Wright – who played the Borgata Music Box Friday Nov. 4 – when virtually everyone in the near-capacity crowd came to the same conclusion.
Steven Wright is insane.
Not clinically, of course, but hilariously insane. And it wasn’t just that he kept telling the crowd he was. Listening to Wright’s barrage of one-liners mixed in with strange – sometimes very strange – stories, the conclusion was inescapable. He is crazy funny.
You know Wright for his lethargic, deadpan delivery of ironic, sometimes philosophical one liners.
“What did Jesus ever do for Santa Claus on his birthday?”
“I was arrested for lip-syncing Karaoke.”
“A friend of mine has a trophy wife, but apparently, it wasn’t for first place.”
Wright said all of those and about a thousand more as he performed a sold out hour-and-10-minute set at The Music Box. And at times it could be dizzying trying to untangle his puns and more philosophical stuff before the next line arrived.
When Wright broke onto the scenes in the 1980’s, helped by some notable appearances on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he quickly became associated with what they call the non-sequitur. In other words, each joke he tells has precious little to do with what the last joke was about.
On stage, Wright showed that can even be applied to his stories. Wright walked out onto The Music Box stage alone without first having a warm-up comedian. That’s unusual for a headliner comic, as Wright was essentially priming his own crowd.
So, Wright immediately went into and extended story about his parrot, who he suspects has been making long distance telephone calls while he’s out. So, he’s watching the bird from the building across the way, but he’s lost his telescope, so he’s watching through the scope of his deer rifle. But he doesn’t want to shoot him because then he’d have to explain why he’s walking around with a deer rifle.
It just got more convoluted and funny from there. Wright eventually does encounter the cops and answers “Is there a problem here?’ with “What do you mean? Existentially there are problems everywhere.”
The whole thing set off the evening which was just one funny line after the other. And Wright gets a lot of mileage out of the idea of real people having to react to his questions.
“I went into a map store, and I asked the guy if he had any maps that weren’t an aerial view. He started openly weeping, then told me to get out of his store.”
If you’ve only seen Wright on late night talk shows, there are some things that might surprise you about his live show.First, he sings – sort of. Wright has an acoustic guitar he went to a couple of time to start singing the one liners. So you got deadpan singing.
And he can also be a little bluer than you might think – though only for a second.
“These aren’t my clothes. This is what happens when you just take the first bag that down the line at the airport. So I were stuff like this – or sometimes dresses. Maybe something nice with an off the shoulder cut …
It went on from there.
“Wow, those jokes weren’t like the other ones,” he said.
Mostly, however, Wright just keeps mining away at your funny bone.
“A friend of mine had plastic explosive surgery. Her head is gone, but she looks better.”
“Another friend of mine does voodoo acupuncture. You don’t know she’s doing it, but you’re walking along and suddenly you think, ‘My back feels much better.”
“I hate it when I see babies at the beach. They’re babies, why do they need a day off?”
As we said, it becomes clear pretty fast that Wright is insane. But it’s all in good fun and kept The Music Box audience laughing – and thinking – through the entire set.
“Don’t think about it,” he said at one point. “It doesn’t mean anything.”
Nope, it’s just funny.
Check out Borgata’s upcoming comedy schedule here.