You know 'em. You love 'em. You laugh at 'em. But not all of 'em are what you think they are. Funnyman Steven Wright's one-line non sequiturs ("I'm addicted to placebos," "What's another word for thesaurus?") are all over the Internet. Problem is, they're not all his.
"Five years ago, someone showed me a site, and I wrote all of the jokes [on there]," Wright says, in the droll monotone that doubles as his comedic signature. "Two years ago, half of them I didn't write. And a year ago, it was a tiny amount that I wrote.
"Some of the jokes that are out there that I didn't write, I wish I wrote. But a lot of them are embarrassing."
But he doesn't think too much about it. He really doesn't have time to. Despite the waning of his comedy star over the past decade, Wright's still busy. A gander at his website reveals a busy actor, singer, director, and painter. Steven Wright, Renaissance man?
"It's not what it appears," he says. "I'm like a kid. I like to play and create."
Since his career-making performance on The Tonight Show in 1982, Wright's created quite a bit: a breakthrough HBO special, an Oscar-winning Best Short Live-Action Film, roles in Natural Born Killers and The Muse, a recurring character on Mad About You, the voice of a monkey in Babe: Pig in the City, and a Grammy-nominated album, 1986's I Have a Pony, which, to this day, is his one and only.
"People come to the show [and don't want] to hear just what's on the album," Wright explains. "At the time, I didn't know how many jokes I could write. That's why I never did another album."
Which also sort of explains his aversion to topical humor. "I'm amused by simple everyday things," he says. "Electricity, cars, and doors amuse me more than something that's happening with the President.
"I don't want to be talking about something five years from now, and they'll look at me and say, 'What the fuck is wrong with him?'"