Judge David Johnson likes to laugh. He likes Steven Wright. He likes this DVD. The end.
The king of absurd deadpan comedy gets his own DVD release.
Steven Wright, in my opinion, is a funny hombre, though I wouldn't be surprised if he turned off as many viewers as he entertained. His one-note, one-line patented delivery could likely drive some fans of traditional stand-up comedy batty, but I think the guy is a gut-laugh inducing riot. For those unfamiliar with Wright's style, basically, his acts go down something like this: he takes the stage and starts saying random one-liners that very funny. The game plan for this special is no different, and as a bonus, Wright has a guitar that he'll pick up—again randomly—and sing a song or two. Then it's back to the trademark one-liners.
What's compelling about Wright is he basically bets everything on his jokes. His delivery, as mentioned, is deadpan and he rarely varies the pitch and tone of his voice when delivering the punch lines. There's no screaming, no exaggerated facial expressions, no wild gesticulating and hardly any cheap-laugh profanity. Heck, there aren't even topics, as the most Wright will do on one subject may be two consecutive gags. Steven Wright's routine is joke-telling at its simplest and most straight-forward (you must have heard the "hitchhikers in the car transport truck" and the "locks on the 24 hour convenience store" gags, right?).
This DVD features 40-odd minutes of Wright's stand-up, followed by his 1999 short film One Soldier and capped with a few vintage minutes of his early stuff. The meat of the disc, though, is the stand-up. And the verdict is? Funny! Yes, with Wright's brand of humor, that is, telling jokes, there are bound to be hits and misses and that is certainly the case here. Some jokes flounder, but there is a lot of really funny stuff to outweigh the clunkers. I won't recreate them here, because that's cheesy and I won't do the joke justice (okay, maybe just one; in One Solder, Wright's character recounts how he met Abraham Lincoln and he was crying because he found he was going to be on the penny…see, I @#$%#% it up). Wright breaks from the joke-telling to do few songs on his guitar, which are just as random, dry and absurd as his spoken word.
One Solder, written and directed by Wright, has him as a former Civil War soldier trying to eke out a living. The plot is non-existent, as the film gives Wright an opportunity to deliver his material in soldier's garb more than anything else. The whole thing run about 30 minutes and is disjointed and bizarre, just like it's star's humor.
Finally, the program ends with some footage of Wright performing early in his career in a Boston club. It only runs a few minutes, but there's some funny stuff and you can just sense the audience thinking "Who the F is this guy?" That is, right before they howl in laughter.
Overall, this is good, varied disc of stand-up and trademark Steven Wright humor. Fans of his should certainly pick the DVD up. Sure, it's there's not a ton out there for Steven Wright DVDs anyway, but it's still a prudent investment. For the more casual comedy fan, Wright may be an acquired taste for some, but the guy is funny, and isn't laughter a universal language?
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