Steven Wright's official bio reads: "I was born. When I was 23 I started telling jokes. Then I started going on television and doing films. That's still what I am doing. The end." This sparse personal history is typical of Wright, whose jokes are as concise as William Carlos Williams poems, but much funnier than that business about red wheelbarrows and purloined plums. A slightly more expansive history of the notoriously droll, cerebral comic can be found on Fran Solomita's 2003 documentary When Stand Up Stood Out, which details the rise of the Boston comedy scene in the early 1980s. Wright emerged as the most distinctive voice from that bumper crop of Beantown comedians, wowing the Tonight Show audience and profoundly influencing a generation of young comics with his high-concept, low-octane style. He's also a painter, actor, and filmmaker—he won an Academy Award in 1989 for his short film The Appointments of Dennis Jennings—but has remained a standup stalwart since his debut. He followed the 1985 HBO special I Have A Pony, an instant classic, with Wicker Chairs and Gravity at the beginning of the '90s. It would be another 15 years before he returned to TV with his Comedy Central special When the Leaves Blow Away. Wright never stopped working, he just neglected to record his material, mostly due to his lack of interest in the mechanics of showbiz. All the while he's been honing his skills, which makes his upcoming performance at the Fitz a can't-miss show from a living legend still at the top of his game.
Sat., May 16, 8 p.m., 2009