Monday, January 11, 2021

The Wright stuff

Few comics are as original as Steven Wright.  He also has a unique deadpan delivery.  I got to direct him once in an episode of ALMOST PERFECT where he played a party planner.  Here are some of his famous quotes.  Enjoy.

The Quotes of Steven Wright:
1 - I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize.
2 - Borrow money from pessimists -- they don't expect it back.
3 - Half the people you know are below average.
4 - 99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.
5 - 82.7% of all statistics are made up on the spot.
6 - A conscience is what hurts when all your other parts feel so good.
7 - A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
8 - If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain.
9 - All those who believe in psycho kinesis, raise my hand.
10 - The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.
11 - I almost had a psychic girlfriend, ..... But she left me before we met.
12 - OK, so what's the speed of dark?
13 - How do you tell when you're out of invisible ink?
14 - If everything seems to be going well, you have obviously overlooked something.
15 - Depression is merely anger without enthusiasm.
16 - When everything is coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
17 - Ambition is a poor excuse for not having enough sense to be lazy.
18 - Hard work pays off in the future; laziness pays off now.
19 - I intend to live forever ... So far, so good.
20 - If Barbie is so popular, why do you have to buy her friends?
21 - Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
22 - What happens if you get scared half to death twice?
23 - My mechanic told me, "I couldn't repair your brakes, so I made your horn louder."
24 - Why do psychics have to ask you for your name
25 - If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried.
26 - A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking.
27 - Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.
28 - The hardness of the butter is proportional to the softness of the bread.
29 - To steal ideas from one person is plagiarism; to steal from many is research.
30 - The problem with the gene pool is that there is no lifeguard.
31 - The sooner you fall behind, the more time you'll have to catch up.
32 - The colder the x-ray table, the more of your body is required to be on it.
33 - Everyone has a photographic memory; some just don't have film.
34 - If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
35 - If your car could travel at the speed of light, would your headlights work?

 Thanks to my friend, David Fury, for turning me on to these quotes.


Daniel said...

My favorite Steve Wright quote: "Snakes have no arms, that's why they don't wear vests."

Max said...

"I stopped at 7-11. The manager said they were closing. I said, 'I thought you were open 24 hours,' and he said, 'Not in a row.'"

Dave Hackel said...

Worked with Steven on “Becker.” Russ Woody wrote a wonderful script entitled “Larry Spoke.” Wright played the patient named Boyd who constantly heard the voice of God...whose real name, he said, was Larry. Becker prescribed drugs to make Boyd quit hearing voices but Boyd stopped taking them because he missed his conversations with Larry. Steven was a pleasure to work with.

In addition to have a chance to write for Wright’s voice, the storyline provided a chance for Becker to talk about religion. "You wanna know what's wrong with religion? Religion is supposed to be about people being nice to each other, but frankly I don't see a lot of that. You know what I do see, is I see a lot of people using the good book to say that they're morally superior. I see people building TV stations to bilk grandma out of her pension checks, all in the name of God. How about all those God-fearing people who are killing other God-fearing people because they don't fear God the same way?"

Tjack said...

I’m from Boston and when I was far too young too underaged to be hanging around nightclubs my older brother managed one of the first “All Comedy Clubs” as they used to be known and he would sneak me in to see the shows.
One night near the beginning of his career I saw Steven Wright, and though I didn’t quite understand what he was doing I laughed my butt off. Later on I’d see him on the Tonight Show and other places and have an odd feeling of pride and happiness at his achievements.

scottmc said...

I have been a fan of Wright's from the first time I saw him on The Tonight Show. There are probably another 30-40 great quotes that could have been included. Wright appeared in an episode of BECKER where his character believes God speaks to him.

Jeff said...

If I came up with just three of these on my own I would be proud. Hilarious!

Lemuel said...

"I bought some instant water but I don't know what to add to it."

iain said...

“I named my dog Stay, so I can say, 'Come here, Stay! Come here, Stay!”

kent said...

More from Wright: You can't have everything, where would you put it?

It's a small world but I wouldn't want to paint it.

Glenn said...

I took my dog for a walk, all the way from New York to Florida. Then I said to him "There, now you're done."

MollyMalone said...

"What's another word for Thesaurus"


"I came home so drunk one night, I put my car keys into my front door.
So I drove it around for a while. Parked it on the freeway. Told all those other cars to get the f**k off my lawn".

Buttermilk Sky said...

"I dreamt that someone stole everything out of my apartment and replaced it with exact replicas."

Sammy B said...

Love Steven Wright. I'd also suggest looking up Mitch Hedberg (RIP :() A somewhat similar perspective on things.

Cowboy Surfer said...

Saw him on Carson about a month ago. I was laughing so hard I was crying.

Total comedy genius.

Brian said...

If Leonard Barr and Jackie Vernon had a kid and it bumped his head, it'd sound something like Steven Wright. Wonderfully funny stuff. He also had a nice recurring role in "Mad About You".

Michael said...

According to his wikipedia page, he has seen websites with lists of his jokes and a lot of them were not his. Some he wished he had thought of and others are so bad he is embarrassed that people think they are his.

RyderDA said...

My fave Wright-ism: "I'd like to put a humidifier and a dehumidifier in a room and let them fight it out".

Steve Bailey said...

My favorite Stephen Wright bit was an episode of "Mad About You" where he played (I think) Paul Reiser's assistant. Jerry Lewis guest-starred as a millionaire who thought he could buy Paul's friendship with gifts. At one point, Jerry enters Paul's apartment holding Ringo Starr's drum kit, complete with the "Beatles" logo on the front. Stephen's response: "Oh, no, now they'll NEVER get back together!"

He also had a funny guest-starring role on the short-lived Bob Newhart sitcom BOB.

Anonymous said...

I love Stephen Wright, let there be no mistake. BUT if I have a complaint it's that he is not a story teller. He's all deserts, no entrees, a series of unconnected one-panel cartoons. Thing is, I love coconut cream pie. Maybe I just haven't seen enough of him in longer sets.


Kosmo13 said...

The Steven Wright joke that always sticks in my memory is: I have a friend who's a radio announcer. When he walks under a bridge, you can't hear him talk.

Andrew15 said...

Many of these aren't Stephen's. He comments on lists like this occasionally in interviews, wondering how anyone could think he'd say some of them. George Carlin did the same - he had a rant about it on his web page.

Neil D said...

I bought an irregular telephone. It doesn't have a 5.
My friend asked me, "Hey, why don't you call me anymore?"
I said, "I can't just call anyone - my phone doesn't have a 5."
He said, "That's so weird. How long have you had that?"
I said, "I don't know. My calendar has no 7s."

Gary said...

"Why aren't there any decaf coffee tables?"

Ted. said...

Part of what I love about Steven Wright is that his hangdog, depressive demeanor is the exact opposite of how someone doing standup is supposed to present himself. So you start laughing the instant you see him. And then his jokes are so well crafted, you keep laughing all the way through. That extra instant it takes for your brain to figure them out makes them even funnier.

Armando De Avila said...

"When I was a kid, I heard Smokey the Bear say that 'only you can prevent forest fires.' I thought, my God."

Tom said...

I'm not sure how he wound up doing so, but I saw Steven Wright open for Bob Dylan in Chicago in about 1999.

Paraphrasing but you'll get the idea:
"I went to a diner where the sign said 'Breakfast served any time. I said I'll have French toast during the Renaissance."
"When I was a kid my teacher asked what I'd like to be. I said a bird. She said 'So you can fly?' I said 'No, so my shit would be white.' "

Elf said...

My favorite: "I went to a restaurant that had a sign that said 'Breakfast any time,' so I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance."

Mike Bloodworth said...

Thanks for this post, Ken. I too love Steven Wright. Unfortunately, I wasn't sure if he was still active. I haven't seen him in anything new lately. And I've stopped watching the late night talk shows, so if he has been on any of them I didn't see it.
I agree that his delivery is as much a part of the joke as the words themselves. I don't think many of his one liners would be funny if anyone else said them. There are a couple of exceptions above.
I'm not sure if this is actually a Wright line or merely attributed to him: "If you make instant coffee in a microwave do you go back in time?"


P.S. Not an official F.Q., but DAVE HACKEL mentioned the "...chance to write for Wright's voice..." How important is it to be able to able to capture the voice of a character? Were some characters more difficult to write for? And were there any characters that you and David (Isaacs) just couldn't get right?

Jay Moriarty said...

What if there were no hypothetical questions?

JB said...

No way did Wright write most of these:

"If you want the rainbow, you got to put up with the rain"

Nope. I'd say about 5 are actual Steven Wright lines (the funny ones).

thevidiot said...

I edited him in a couple of stand-up specials. My favorite: "I was a Caesarian baby. Cant really tell, except every time I leave the house I go out through the window."

Liggie said...

"I called Information and asked, 'Where are my car keys?' The lady on the other end said, 'They're behind your couch.' [forehead smack]"

Ere I Saw Elba said...

"If at first you don't succeed, destroy all evidence that you tried."

Paper shredder in the works already, baby.

Unknown said...

Steven bought a house on the median strip. It's nice but he has to leave his driveway at sixty MPH.
Steven got a little dog to do all his barking for him. Now he can sleep in every morning.
They told Steven he had to get a license for his dog. But it would probably be cheaper to just hide the car keys.

Tore from Norway said...

«The ice cream truck in my neighborhood plays Helter Skelter».

ventucky said...

The only comedian I ever paid to see. At the Ventura Theater in the late 80's. They oversold the show because he was so popular, and I had to stand in the balcony, because I arrived 20 minutes before show time. A true genius, and absolutely one of a kind.