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Steven Wright
Steven Wright.jpg
Wright at Tufts University, 1994
Birth name Steven Alexander Wright
Born December 6, 1955 (1955-12-06) (age 54)
Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.
Medium stand-up, film, television
Nationality American
Years active 1979–present
Genres Surreal humor, post-modernism, Wit/Word play, Observational comedy, Musical comedy, Deadpan
Influences Woody Allen, George Carlin[1]
Influenced Mitch Hedberg, Demetri Martin, Jimmy Carr
Notable works and roles I Have a Pony
K-Billy DJ in Reservoir Dogs
Speed in The Swan Princess
Guy on the Couch in Half Baked
I Still Have a Pony
Academy Awards
Best Short Film, Live Action
1988 The Appointments of Dennis Jennings

Steven Alexander Wright (born December 6, 1955) is an American comedian, actor and writer. He is known for his distinctly lethargic voice and slow, deadpan delivery of ironic, witty, philosophical and sometimes deeply confusing or nonsensical jokes and one-liners with contrived situations.



Early life and career

Steven Wright was born in Mount Auburn Hospital in Cambridge, Massachusetts,[2] and raised in Burlington, Massachusetts,[2] one of four children of Dolly and Alexander Wright.[2] His father, an electronics engineer who "tested a lot of stuff for the Apollo space program," became a truck driver after that program ended.[2]

Wright spent two years obtaining an associate's degree from Middlesex Community College in Bedford, Massachusetts, before enrolling at Emerson College.[3] He graduated from the latter in 1978[3] and began performing stand-up comedy in 1979[2][4] at the Boston comedy club the Comedy Connection.[2][3] He cites George Carlin and Woody Allen among his influences.[5]

In 1982, Peter Lassally, executive producer of the influential late-night television talk show The Tonight Show, noticed Wright performing on a bill with other local comics at the comedy club Ding Ho,[6] in Cambridge's Inman Square,[7] a venue Wright described as "half Chinese restaurant and half comedy club. It was a pretty weird place".[2] Lassally booked Wright on The Tonight Show, where the comic so impressed host Johnny Carson and the studio audience that Wright was brought back less than a week later.[5] In May 2007, Wright and other Ding Ho alumni, including Lenny Clarke, Barry Crimmins, Steve Sweeney, and Jimmy Tingle, appeared at a reunion benefit for fellow comic Bob Lazarus, suffering from leukemia.[7]

Stand-up success

Wright's 1985 comedy album was entitled I Have a Pony, released on Warner Bros. Records, received critical acclaim and was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album. In 1989, he and fellow producer Dean Parisot won an Academy Award for their 30-minute short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, directed by Parisot, written by Mike Armstrong and Wright, and starring Wright and Rowan Atkinson. In 1992, Wright had a recurring role on the television sitcom Mad About You. He also supplied the voice of the radio DJ in writer-director Quentin Tarantino's film Reservoir Dogs that year. "Dean Parisot's wife Sally Menke is Quentin Tarantino's [film] editor, so when she was editing the movie and it was getting down toward the end where they didn't have the radio DJ yet, she thought of me and told Quentin and he liked the idea", Wright explained in 2009.[2]

Numerous lists of jokes attributed to Wright circulate on the Internet, sometimes of dubious origin. Wright has stated, "Someone showed me a site, and half of it that said I wrote it, I didn't write. Recently, I saw one, and I didn't write any of it. What's disturbing is that with a few of these jokes, I wish I had thought of them. A giant amount of them, I'm embarrassed that people think I thought of them, because some are really bad".[8]

After his 1990 comedy special Wicker Chairs and Gravity, Wright continued to do stand-up performances, but was largely absent from television, only doing occasional guest spots on late-night talk shows. In 1999, he wrote and directed the 30-minute short "One Soldier", "about a soldier who was in the Civil War, right after the war, with all these existentialist thoughts and wondering if there is a God and all that stuff".[2]

In 2006, Wright produced his first stand-up special in 16 years, Steven Wright: When the Leaves Blow Away, originally airing on Comedy Central on October 21, 2006. Its DVD was released April 23, 2007.

On September 25, 2007, Wright released a follow-up to I Have a Pony, titled I Still Have a Pony (a CD release of the material from When the Leaves Blow Away). It was also nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

Awards and honors

Steven Wright was awarded an Oscar in 1989 for Best Short Live-Action Film for The Appointments of Dennis Jennings, in which he co-wrote (with Michael Armstrong) and starred.

On December 15, 2008, Wright became the first inductee to the Boston Comedy Hall of Fame.[6][9]

In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian's Comedian, he was voted amongst the top 50 comedy acts by fellow comedians and comedy insiders. He was named #23 on Comedy Central's list of the 100 greatest stand-up comics.

In a 2009 poll to find viewers' favorite puppet on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Steven Wright received several votes as a write-in candidate. The voting is ongoing as of July 11, 2009.




  1. ^ The Comedy Couch - Steven Wright Interview
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Lovece, Frank. "Comedian Steven Wright plays Westbury Sunday",, May 28, 2009
  3. ^ a b c Crane, Joyce Pellino. "Laugh Track: For more than five decades, Emerson College has been putting comics on the road to success", The Boston Globe, October 7, 2007
  4. ^ Young, Chris. "Behind a new album, comedian Steven Wright plays Pittsburgh for the first time in five years", Pittsburgh City Paper, October 11, 2007
  5. ^ a b Keepnews, Peter. "A Strange Career Takes an Odd Turn", The New York Times, February 10, 2008, Section AR; Column 0; Arts and Leisure Desk; Television; Pg. 11
  6. ^ a b Turbovsky, Rob. "Steven Wright inducted into Hall, a city’s comedy history celebrated", Punchline Magazine, December 22, 2008
  7. ^ a b Baltrusis, Sam. "Steven Wright headlines Ding Ho reunion benefit",, April 8, 2008
  8. ^ The Onion "AV Club: Interview with Steven Wright", November 9, 2006
  9. ^ Miller, Jay, N. "The Wright stuff; Boston comedian is first inductee into hall of fame", The Patriot Ledger (Quincy, Massachusetts), December 15, 2008, Features; pg. 23

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Steven Alexander Wright (born December 6, 1955) is an Academy Award winning American comedian, writer and actor, known for his bizarre comic style and morose stage persona.




  • [unenthusiastically] Thanks...
    • Said at the beginning of every show in response to the audience cheering and clapping

I Have A Pony (1985)

  • I recently went to the hardware store, and I bought some used paint... It was in a shape of a house. I also bought some batteries, but they weren't included. So I had to buy them again.
  • I was once walking through the forest alone. A tree fell right in front of me, and I... didn't hear it.
  • I have a large seashell collection which I keep scattered on the beaches all over the world... Maybe you've seen it?
  • Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.
  • When I first read the dictionary I thought it was a long poem about everything.

I Still Have a Pony (2007)

  • I wish the first word I ever said was the word "quote," so right before I die I could say "unquote."
  • Lots of my friends have babies, but I don't have any babies, but I have lots of friends - babies don't have any friends. They all have those baby-monitors so they can hear the baby from the other room, which I consider a form of wiretapping. One day there's gonna be a really smart baby who makes a fake recording of some fake baby noises... Gonna crawl out of the window and go to Italy. I need one of those baby-monitors for my subconscious to my consciousness so I can know what the hell I'm really thinking about... Sometimes I talk to myself fluently in languages I'm unfamiliar with. Just to screw with my subconscious... It's a good thing a lot of people speak foreign languages, otherwise those people would have no-one to talk to.
  • They say you're not supposed to put metal in a microwave oven... They're right.
  • In school they told me "Practice makes perfect." And then they told me "Nobody's perfect," so then I stopped practicing...
  • Last time I went to the grocery store I caused a lot of commotion 'cause I tried to buy that thing at the register that separates your food from the other guy's food... [feigns distress] "No, I need this! You don't know what its like where I live."

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