And Now for a Deadpan Interview with Steven Wright

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Always a man of few words, the delightfully deadpan and surprisingly philosophical Steven Wright has in the last few years shied from acting to focus on his live show, his music, and his painting. Not out-there enough? The master of the absurd one-liner and quirky uncle of alt-comedy's next big transition may be to - gulp! - Los Angeles. It's been a little more than a year since the comic was last interviewed here on Daily RFT. Wright will do his stand-up act on November 14 at the Touhill Performing Arts Center at the University of Missouri-St. Louis

It's been a couple years since the release of 2006 DVD When the Leaves Blow Away and 2007 CD I Still Have a Pony. Are you actively working towards a new album or a new special?

No, I'm just writing stuff. I don't have an album or a DVD I'm working on. I mean, I'm always working on material. I do have a project that's that I'm gonna be spending a lot of time in LA for in the fall. Most of my friends live here and the business is here and I need to be around my friends more, so I'm lookin' at some places to rent, kinda, for like several months. But just focusing on live stuff.

Are you thinking of officially becoming bi-coastal? Boston was always directly correlated as being Steven Wright's hometown. But are you saying this is something that might change?

Maybe for a little while, yeah. I won't leave Boston permanently, though. But I spent some time out here this past spring and I went back East for the summer and I've gotta come back in the next couple weeks. I've got something in the next three weeks.

Is this project anything you can talk about? Or is it all top secret?
There's nothing really to relate to you at this point. A lot of it just has to do with visiting my friends.

You have a few original songs on your Web site and I know you play a couple of funny ditties at your live shows. Would you ever consider a strictly musical tour?

Yeah, I have a couple of songs on my Web site. I like recording serious music. I don't know if I'll ever put it out, though. That's something I enjoy doing for myself. I also have paintings on the Web site.

Steve Martin's recent banjo tour was serious, with no comedic aspect to it. You'd have a precedent.

Yeah? Oh, I didn't know that. That's great.

I recall you mentioning it previously, but I assume it's still true that you don't really keep up with what's going on in the world of comedy.

[Laughs] Yeah.

So you would have no thoughts on Demetri Martin, who's found success via a style very similar to your own?

Oh, I think he's funny. I've known about him for a few years. Saw him on Letterman like three or four years ago. Yeah, he's funny.

2009 marks your 30th year in stand-up comedy. Have you celebrated the milestone?

I didn't celebrate it, but I was very aware it was that day. It was July 3rd, 1979. I can't believe it's been 30 years. It's pretty wild.

And you still remember that first show like it was only 30 minutes ago?

Yeah. It was very nerve-wracking. My legs were shaking before I went on stage. I was up there about two and-a-half minutes and was very nervous. Talking fast, if you can believe that. Well, I only lasted about half of it. It was at the Comedy Connection in Boston. Then I just kept going back to the open-mic nights.

In another Boston-related milestone, last December you were the first inductee into the Boston Comedy Hall of Fame. How did the honor stack up against the Grammy nomination and the Oscar win?

It was great. There's a lot of good comedians that come out of Boston so I was happy to receive that honor. I was joking that I've been inducted into a Hall of Fame there's no building for. It just fits into all the weirdness.

Steven Wright. 8 p.m. Saturday, November 14. Touhill Performing Arts Center, 1 University Boulevard. $22-$75. 314-726-6161.

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