Steven Wright text from standup performance
STEVEN WRIGHT Special on HBO 1986
I got a postcard from my friend George. It was a satellite
picture of the entire earth. On the back he wrote, "Wish you
I went to court for a parking ticket. I pleaded insanity. I
said, "Your honor, why would anyone in their right mind park in
the passing lane?"
Curiosity killed the cat, but for a while I was a suspect.
When I die, I'm leaving my body to science fiction.
Today I was arrested for scalping low numbers at the deli. I
sold a #3 for 28 bucks.
I was once arrested for walking in someone else's sleep.
I was walking through the forest alone, and a tree feel right in
front of me and I didn't hear it.
Are there any questions?
I went to the hardware store and bought some used paint. It was
in the shape of a house. I also bought some batteries, but they
weren't included, so I had to buy them again.
What do batteries run on?
Why is the alphabet in that order? Is it because of that song?
The guy who wrote that song wrote everything.
Why is it "A penny for your thoughts" but "you have to put your
two cents in?" Somebody's making a penny.
I like to tease my plants when I water them. I water them with
Every once in a while I like to stick my head out my window, look
up at the sky, and smile for a satellite picture.
Recently it was my birthday, and I got a humidifier and a
dehumidifier. I put them in the same room and let them fight it
out. Then I filled my humidifier with wax, and now my room is
I went to a museum where they had all the heads and arms from the
statues that are in all the other museums.
Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.
I used to work for the factory where they made fire hydrants, but
you couldn't park anywhere near the place.
Years ago, I worked in a natural, organic health food store in
Seattle, Washington. One day a man walked in and asked, "If I
can melt dry ice, can I swim without getting wet?" Two days
later I was fired for eating cotton candy and drinking straight
Bosco on the job.
So I figured I'd leave the area, because I had no ties there
anyway except for this girl I was seeing. We had conflicting
attitudes: I really wasn't into meditating and she wasn't really
into being alive. I told her I knew when I was going to die
because my birth certificate has an expiration date.
I decided to leave and go to California, so I packed up my
Salvador Dali print of two blindfolded dental hygienist trying to
make a circle on an Etch-a-Sketch, and I headed for the highway
and began hitching. Within three minutes I got picked up by one
of those huge trailer trucks carrying 20 brand new cars. I
climbed up the side of the cab and opened the door. The guy
said, "I don't have much room up here, why don't you get into one
of the cars out back." So I did. And he was really into picking
people up because he picked up 19 more. We all had our own cars.
Then he went 90 miles per hour and we all got speeding tickets.
If sometimes you can't hear me, it's because sometimes I'm in
I bought some powered water, but I don't know what to add.
I'm saving money because I'm planning a trip to Spain. I bought
an album that teaches you the language. You put the album on,
you put headphones on, and you learn the language while you
sleep. The other night the record skipped, and the next day I
could only stutter in Spanish.
When I go, I'm flying Air Bizarre. It's a good airline, you buy
accommodation one way round trip ticket. You leave any Monday,
and they bring you back the previous Friday...that way you still
have the weekend
Uh Oh. I just lost a button hole. Where am I gonna find another
I stayed up one night playing poker with Tarot cards. I got a
full house and 4 people died.
I got an answering machine for my phone. Now when I'm not home
and somebody calls me up, they hear a recording of a busy signal.
I like to leave messages before the beep.
Sorry, my mind was wandering. One time my mind went all the way
to Venus on mail order and I couldn't pay for it.
I have a map of the United States that's actual size. It says,
"1 mile = 1 mile" When people ask me where I live I say, "E5."
I bought one of those little glass ball things with the snow in
it. You know, you turn it upside down then you turn it back and
it starts to snow. I bought one, except this has a snow plow
that does it in rows.
Last night, I walked up to this beautiful woman in a bar and
asked her, "Do you live around here often?" She said, "You're
wearing two different colored socks," I said, "Yes, but to me
they're the same because I go by thickness." Then she asked,
"How do you feel?" and I said, "Well, you know when you're
sitting on a chair and you lean back so you're just on two legs
then you lean too far and you almost fall over but at the last
second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time."
I broke a mirror in my house and am supposed to get seven years
bad luck, but my lawyer thinks he can get me five.
I finally went to eye doctor and got contacts, but I only need
them when I read, so I wear flip-ups.
I have the oldest typewriter in the world. It types in pencil.
Under my bed I have shoe box full of telephone rings, and
whenever I get lonely I open it up just a bit and I get a call.
One time I dropped the box all over the floor and the phone
wouldn't stop ringing, so I had it disconnected.
I got a new phone though. I didn't have much money so I had to
buy an irregular phone -- it had no number 5 on it. I was
walking down the street and I bumped into a good friend of mine
and he asked me, "How come you don't call me any more?" I said,
"I can't call most of my friends, my phone has no number 5." He
said, "That's really weird. How long have you had it?" I said,
"I don't know, my calendar has no 7's."
I got up the other day and everything in my apartment had been
stolen and replaced with exact replicas. I couldn't believe it.
I called my friend here and said, "Look at all this stuff, it's
all exact replicas. What do you think?" He looked at me and
said, "Do I know you?"
I bought one of those little glass ball things with the snow in
it... Just checking.
I live in a house on a median strip of the highway. The only
thing I don't like about it is that when I leave the driveway I
have to be going 60 miles per hour.
One night a jet flew a little bit too close to my house. I was
walking from the living room to the kitchen, and the stewardess
told me to sit down.
I was cleaning out my closet and I found a swim suit that I had
made out of sponges. I remember one time when I wore it. When I
got out of the swimming pool nobody could go swimming until I
I was walking my dog around the building -- on the ledge.
A lot of people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of
I have a three year old dog. I named him 'Stay.' He was a lot
of fun when he was a puppy because, when I'd call him "Come here,
Stay! Come here, Stay!" he didn't know what to do. He's a lot
smarter now. Now when I call him, he just ignores me and keeps
on typing. He's an East German Shepherd.
My girlfriend has a queen sized bed, and I have a court jester
sized bed. It's red and green, has bells on it, and the ends
curl up. One morning I woke up, and she asked me if I slept
good. I told her, "No, I made a few mistakes."
When I was little, in our backyard, we had a quicksand box. I
was an only child, eventually.
One time the police stopped me for speeding and they asked, "Did
you know the speed limit is 55 miles per hour?" I said, "Yeah, I
know, but I wasn't going to be out that long."
I used to be a waiter, but I was fired for clearing tables. I
was clearing them for take off. I had them all lined up outside.
People thought it was an outdoor cafe. I said, "No, these are
leaving at 3." They were going to fire me anyway, because I told
them I think they should put the wrapper on the inside of the
straw since that's the part you don't want to get dirty.
I like to skate on the other side of the ice.
I like to reminisce with people I don't know.
I like to fill my tub up with water then turn on the shower and
act like a submarine that has been hit.
I hate it when my foot falls asleep during the day because that
means it's going to be up all night.
When I get real bored, I like to drive downtown and get a great
parking space and then sit in my car and count how many people
ask me if I'm leaving.
I can't remember the rest. Now I'm having amnesia and deja-vu at
the same time.
When I was a baby, I kept a diary. Recently, I was rereading it.
It said, "Day 1 - Still tired from the move. Day 2 - Everybody
talks to me like I'm an idiot."
Last time I went skiing, I had to get up at 5:00 in the morning.
I knew I couldn't do that, so I slept with my skis on. My ride
came at 5:30 in the morning, couldn't wake me up so he carried me
out of the house, put my skis on the roof rack of the car, and
drove to the mountain. Seventeen miles later, I woke up out of
this incredibly bizarre dream that I was skydiving horizontally.
I'm sure this has happened to you.
I spilled spot remover on my dog and now he's gone.
I woke up this morning and couldn't find my socks. So I called
Information. I said, "Hello, Information?" She said, "Yes?" I
said, "I can't find my socks." She said, "They're behind the
couch." And they were!
I got tired of calling the movies to listen to what is playing so
I bought the album.
Last time I went to the movies I was thrown out for bringing my
own food. My argument was that the concession stand prices are
outrageous. Besides, I haven't had a Bar-B-Que in a long time.
I went to the cinema, and the prices were: Adults $5.00/Children
$2.50. So I said, "Give me two boys and a girl."
One time I went to a Drive-in in a cab. The movie cost me $95.
I went to a restaurant that served breakfast anytime, so I
ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
I just got out of the hospital. I was in a speed reading
accident. I hit a book mark and flew across the room.
I've been doing a lot of abstract painting lately, extremely
abstract. No brush, no paint, no canvas, I just think about it.
One time I went to a museum where all the work in the museum had
been done by children. They had all the paintings up on
When I left the museum and was walking down the street, I saw a
man with wooden legs and real feet. He asked me if I knew what
time it was. I said, "Yes, but not right now."
The ice cream truck in my neighborhood plays "Helter, Skelter."
I called the wrong number today. I said, "Hello, is Joey there?"
The woman who answered said, "Yes he is." I said, "Can I speak
to him please?" She said, "No, he can't speak right now, he's
only two months old." I said, "That's all right, I'll wait."
One time, right in the middle of a job interview, I took out a
book and I started reading. The guy said, "What the hell are you
doing?" I said, "Let me ask you one question: If you were in a
vehicle traveling at the speed of light and you turned your
headlights on, would they do anything?" He said, "I don't know."
I said, "Forget it then, I don't want to work for you."
I've never seen electricity, so I don't pay for it. I write
right on the bill, "I'm sorry, I haven't seen it all month."
For a while I didn't have a car, I had a helicopter. I had no
way of parking it, so I would tie a rope to it and keep it
There's a pizza place near where I live, and they only sell
slices. When you go there you see the guy throwing up triangles.
Today I was... No that wasn't today. Yesterday, I saw a
subliminal advertising executive, just for a second.
I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done, now I just
have to fill in the rest.
I wrote a song too, but I can't read music, so I don't know what
it is. Sometimes I turn the radio on, and I say "I might have
I've written several children's books, not on purpose.
Whenever I'm around a little baby I always write down the noises
he's making, so years later I can ask him what he meant.
The first time I read the dictionary, I thought it was a poem
I'm learning how to play the harmonica, but the only way I know
how to play is to drive 100 miles per hour and stick the
harmonica out the window. I've been arrested three times for
The last time I tried to commit suicide was about an hour ago. I
was down the street on the roof of this very tall building. I
ran and leaped off the ledge, and accidentally did a triple
backflip landing standing on my feet. Nobody saw this except two
little kittens. One said to the other, "See, that's how you do
Well, I got no electricity in my house, I have no flashlights,
and I couldn't see what I was doing. Good thing my camera has a
flash. I went around taking pictures of everything. When I made
myself a sandwich, I took 60 pictures of my kitchen. My
neighbors called the police because they thought there was
lightning in my house.
My house is made out of balsa wood. When no one's home except
little kids across the street, I come out and lift my house above
my head, and I tell them to stay out of my yard or I'll throw it
I put tape on the mirrors in my house so I don't accidentally
walk through into another dimension.
I put instant coffee in a microwave oven and almost went back in
I put a new engine in my car, but didn't take the other one out.
Now I can go 500 miles per hour. And that harmonica sounds
I took the headlights off, and put the strobe lights on, so when
I drive at night it looks like I'm the only one that's moving.
I like my dental hygienist, I think she's very pretty, so
whenever I go to get my teeth cleaned, while I'm in the waiting
room I eat an entire box of Oreo cookies. Sometimes she has to
cancel all the rest of the appointments.
Late one night, I was hungry and went to a store I know that is
open 24 hours a day. When I got there the guy was locking it up.
He said, "Sorry, we're closed." I said, "What do you mean you're
closed? The sign says 'Open 24 hours'." He said, "Not in a
You can't have everything. Where would you put it?
The other day I got on an elevator and this old guy got on with
me. I was going to the fourth floor and pushed '4'. I asked
him, "Where are you going?" He said, "Phoenix." So I pushed
'Phoenix'. When the doors opened, two tumbleweeds blew in, and
we stepped out into downtown Phoenix. I said, "You're really the
kind of guy I like to hang around with." He said, "Well, I'm
going out to the desert, do you want to go?" I said, "Sure." So
we hopped into his car and drove out to desert. He told me that
he had spent most of his life working on a research project for
the government trying to find out who financed the Pyramids. He
worked on it for 30 years, and they paid him an incredible amount
of money. He told me he was pretty sure it was a guy named
Eddie. When we got out to his house, 500 miles in the middle of
the desert, the phone rang, and he said, "You get it." And when
I picked it up the voice said, "Steven Wright?" I said, "Yes."
He said, "This is Mr. Haines, your student loan director from
your bank. You're 62 bank payments behind, and we found out
today that the institute you attended received none of the
$17,000 we loaned you, and we would really like to know what you
did with it." I said, "Well, I'm not going to lie to you. I
gave the money to my friend Jiggs Casey and he built a nuclear
weapon with it. And I'd really appreciate it if you wouldn't
call me anymore."
I have several hobbies I enjoy to the fullest. I have a large
sea shell collection I keep scattered on all the beaches all over
the world. Maybe you've seen it.
I also collect rare photographs. One is a picture of Houdini
locking his keys in his car. The other one is a rare photograph
of Norman Rockwell beating up a child.
Friday, I was in a bookstore and I started talking to a French
looking girl. She was a bilingual illiterate -- she couldn't
read in two different languages. I then left the bookstore and
got on my bus and started walking towards the back. I sat down
next to this beautiful, blonde haired Chinese girl. I said,
"Hello," and she said, "Hello." I said, "Isn't it an amazing
day?" She said, "I guess." I said, "What do you mean 'you
guess'?" She said, "Well, things haven't been going too well for
me lately." I said, "Like what?" and she said, "I can't tell you,
I don't even know you." And I said, "Yeah, but sometimes it's
good to tell your problems to an absolute stranger on a bus."
She said, Well, I just came back from my analyst, and he's still
unable to help me." I said, "What's the problem?" She paused and
said, "I'm a nymphomaniac and I only get turned on by Jewish
cowboys. By the way, my name's Diane." I said, "Hi Diane, I'm
When I first moved into my house, there was this switch on the
wall. It didn't control any lights or anything, and I would
flick it up and down every once in a while. Three months later,
I got a letter from a woman in Germany saying, "Cut it out."
I have a microwave fireplace. You can lay down in front of the
fire for the evening in eight minutes.
For a while I lived in Vermont with a guy named Winnie. I
thought I was a procrastinator until I met Winnie. He got a
birth mark when he was 8 years old. All Winnie did all day was
practice Limbo. He got pretty good -- he could go under a rug.
When people came over they asked, "What's that?" I would say,
Six months later, I looked out my apartment window, and I saw a
bird wearing sneakers and a button saying, "I ain't flying no
where." I said, "What's your problem buddy?" He said, I'm sick
of this stuff -- winter here, summer there, winter here, summer
there. I don't know who thought this stuff up, but it certainly
wasn't a bird." I said, "Well, I was just making breakfast, come
on in. Want some eggs? Sorry."
Last summer I drove cross country with a friend of mine. We
split the driving -- we switched every half mile. The whole way
across we had only one cassette tape to listen to, but I can't
remember what it was.
We were in Salino, Utah when we were arrested for not going
through a green light. We pleaded 'maybe.' I asked the judge if
he knew what time it is, he did, and I said, "No further
For no reason at all, I drove to Canada. I was feeling good
because I just received my degree in calciumantebiology -- the
study of milkmen. When I was driving back over the border into
the United States, they asked me if I had any firearms. I said,
"What do you need?"
Most people think my friend George is weird because he has side
burns behind his ears. I think he's weird because he has false
teeth, but he has braces on them.
Last time I went camping, I accidentally borrowed a circus tent.
I didn't know until I got there and set it up. People complained
because they couldn't see the lake. There was a forest nearby,
but it wasn't a regular forest. It was a forest made out of
paneling. It was a long, thin forest.
My friend George is a radio announcer, and when he walks under a
bridge you can't hear him.
My watch is three hours fast, and I can't fix it. So I'm going
to move to New York.
One night I came home very late. It was the next night.
I had trouble getting into my apartment. I accidentally put in
my car key, and when I turned it the building started up, so I
drove it around for a while. I went too fast and the police
pulled me over, and they asked me, "Where do you live?" I said,
"Right here!" Then I parked it in the middle of the freeway, ran
outside, and yelled at all the cars to get the hell out of my
driveway." Nobody who lives in the building noticed that the
building had been moved because everybody who lives there is
absolutely insane. The guy above me designed synthetic hair
balls for ceramic cats. The woman next to me tried to rob a
department store with a pricing gun. She walked in and said,
"Give me all the money in the vault, or I'll mark down
everything." It's a good apartment because they allow pets. I
have a Shetland pony named Nikkie. Last summer Nikkie was
involved in a bizarre electrolysis accident. All her hair was
removed except for her tail. Now I rent her out to Hare Krishma
Last night I had a dream that all the babies prevented by the
pill showed up and they were mad.
I have a friend named Dennis. Both of his parents were midgets,
but he isn't a midget. He's a midget-dwarf. He's two inches
tall. He's the one who poses for trophies.
Now I'm going to tell you about the girl I'm seeing now. I met
her at a Macy's in New York. She was buying clothes, and I was
putting slinkies on the escalators. The girl I'm seeing now,
Rachel, is a very pretty girl. She has emerald eyes and long,
flowing plaid hair. The last week in August, we went camping way
up in Canada. We were laying around in the woods and stuff, and
I don't know how she did it but she got poison ivy on her brain
and the only way she can scratch it is if she thinks about
sandpaper. She's a rich girl, she's from somewhere else. And
her father is an incredible millionaire. He's the guy who
designed the diagram to show you which way to put the batteries
in something. Having sex with Rachel is amazing. It's like
going to a concert. She yells a lot. She throws frisbees around
the room. Snd when she wants more she lights a match.
A while ago, I went skiing in England. It was a rare package:
two weeks in England, one night in Connecticut, two weeks in
England. I said, "Yes, I'll take it." I got on this chairlift
with this guy I didn't know. We went halfway up the mountain
without saying a word. Then he turned to me and said, "You know,
this is the first time I've gone skiing in ten years." I said,
"Why did you take such a long time off?" He said, "I was in
prison. Want to know why?" I said, "Not really. Well, you
better tell me why." He said, "I pushed a total stranger off a
Ferris wheel." I said, "I remember you."
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