If you know the littlest bit about comedy, you’ve definitely heard of Steven Wright.
And if you haven’t, chances are, you’d recognize his voice.
Known for his distinctly lethargic voice and deadpan delivery of witty and jokes and one-liners, the Massachusetts native is the first to acknowledge that his voice “has really helped my career.”
It’s recognizable, even in the most removed situations — “I’ll call up to make an airline reservation or a hotel reservation, and they’ll recognize my voice,” he said — but it’s his perseverance and wit that’s brought the Academy Award-winning and Grammy-nominated comedian where he is today.
Wright, who’s in Canada “every couple of years” — and who performs at the Centrepointe Theatre tomorrow as a part of a North American tour — said Canadians stand out for him.
“People laugh more in Canada,” Wright said.
“I’ve played different countries — England, Ireland Australia and Canada — and in Canada, they laugh the most,” Wright said. “The last two TV specials were taped in Toronto for that reason — the audience is really good.”
Tomorrow night, fans can expect to hear jokes spanning Wright’s 30-year career — “a mix of new jokes, older jokes and medium jokes” that he’s written over the years.
Of course, in classic Steven Wright style, the 80-minute performance features a subject change “about once every five seconds.
“I’ll be talking about life and lint, and trains and babies and the moon,” he said. “I’ll cover a lot of different subjects and I’ll be playing some songs on the guitar.”
It was 1979 when Wright began performing at open mike nights at the Boston comedy club the Comedy Connection.
Now 54, his career highlights include going on the Tonight Show for the first time, and winning an Academy Award in 1989.
But it was appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson that was “my goal and dream,” he said.
It was August of 1982, and a producer saw the then-26-year-old in a little club. “I went on the show three weeks later,” he said. “I was completely stunned and shocked. It was amazing.”
The process in which he writes material hasn’t changed over three decades.
He doesn’t just sit down to write; rather, ideas come to him naturally and are often inspired by real-life situations and events.
“It just comes from noticing things. Sometimes, things will jump out and if I twist it around, it becomes a good joke.”
Despite his success, Wright said he’s just a regular guy.
“I travel a lot, and most of my friends live in Los Angeles, but I don’t have a Hollywood lifestyle,” he said. After living in New York City and Los Angeles for many years, Wright returned to Massachusetts eight years ago, where he makes his home in Carlisle.
In his spare time, he likes to read, watch movies, write songs, paint and draw.
And he never takes anything for granted.
“I feel lucky to make a living from my imagination,” he said.