Steven Wright talks current comedy scene before Northampton show – MassLive.com
Wright headlines the Ohio Theatre in Playhouse Square on Friday, March 22 (Photo by Jorge Rios)
Steven Wright is certainly no stranger to Western Massachusetts.
First, he’s a Boston native, and he also has spent plenty of time out here, where he could sometimes be spotted watching a Red Sox game at Northampton’s Fitzwilly’s back in the day.
He also has played here regularly since the early 1980s.
Wright will return to Paradise City on Sept. 16 as he brings his singular comedic genius to the Academy of Music. Wright took some time to chat about his career during a recent telephone interview.
On how he dipped his toes into acting after making his name as a standup comic – and the differences between the two types of performance:
Well, standup was always my main goal. But I also thought that maybe someday I would like to do some acting, and when I started getting on television, other things started coming my way. So, I started doing acting just for the fun of it, really.
Acting was weird at first because memorizing the lines – and then trying to say them like they were real –.was difficult for me, because I really have no acting training. But with my standup, I write everything, so it’s much easier for me to remember the lines. So it’s different, and all those differences were little struggles for me at first.
And standup is like 80 minutes. You do 80 minutes and then you’re done. But acting in a movie is like little 20-second performances, and then they cut it, and then you do it again and again and again. It’s a whole different world. I like doing it, but it’s not natural to me
On the current comedy scene today:
I think there’s more great comedians now at one time than there ever has been before. There are just so many excellent comedians. Like, do you know Hannibal Buress? That guy is a genius. And Bill Burr, of course – he’s from another planet. And you have people like Jim Gaffigan, Chris Rock, Dave Chapelle. It’s amazing.
When I look back to the great comedians in the ‘70s, there wasn’t even like 15 of them. Now it’s just fantastic.
How his comedy act developed and changed over the years:
In the beginning, I had a lot of one-liners, but I would connect them into these little fake stories. Then when I started going on TV, I sort of forgot about connecting them, but then I started connecting them again. But it wasn’t a new thing, I was just going back to the way I started.
And it’s interesting, because when people hear the jokes within a story, it’s different than when it’s on its own. It’s still just a joke, but it has a different atmosphere.
On whether he’ll ever retire from the road:
I still enjoy performing on the stage. The road is just what it is. But the stage is still an intense, magical place. But as I got to be 64, 65 and other people are retiring, they started asking me if I’m going to retire. It never really entered my mind because I’m still having fun doing this.
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