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October 24, 2014 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2014-10-24

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6 -- Friday, October 24, 2014

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

6- Friday, October 24, 2014 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

'Hang Out' with a
fun new memoir

Stephen Wright was a consulting producer on the fourth season of 'Louie'
Wright discusses
Royal, Oak show

Academy Award
winning comedian
talks storied career
The story of Steven Wright's
rise to success is one of almost
comedy cliche. Back during
a time when
landing a gig Steven
on late night Wright
could turn
someone into Royal Oak
an overnight MUsIC
success, Theatre
Wright got his
big break on
"The Tonight
Show Starring Johnny Carson.".
This would have been a career-
altering performance for any
up and coming comedian. One
filled with high stakes, sweat-
inducing lights and nerves
- not whimsical butterflies
flitting around in your
stomach, but cold, unforgiving
Wright's comedy dreams
started when he was a
teenager watching Carson,
and despite his anxiety and
the inherent stress that comes
with performing on television
for the first time, he managed
to stake his claim as a late
night mainstay. His deadpan
delivery and bizarre non
sequiturs were a refreshing
contrast against the brash
vulgarity of predecessors like
George Carlin and Richard
Pryor. Since his crucial set,
Wright has gone on to release
Grammy-nominated comedy
albums (I Have a Pony, I
Still Have a Pony), create an
Academy Award-winning short
film ("The Appointments of
Dennis Jennings") and most
recently, serve as a producer

on the Emmy Award-winning
Wright recently sat down
for a phone interview with
The Michigan Daily to discuss
his life in comedy and his
upcoming performance at the
Royal Oak Music Theatre this
"I got so nervous that I
wasn't nervous anymore,"
Wright said about his first
set on "The Tonight Show." "I
got numb. When I watched it,
when I was 14 or 15, it became
my fantasy, like, 'If I could go
on ("The Tonight Show"), that
would be amazing.' That was
the only thing I wanted to do
was to go on there ... It's still
the highlight of my career."
Decades later, Wright is still
making the rounds on late night
television. He's a frequent
guest on "The Late Late
Show with Craig Ferguson,"
which provides Wright with a
platform to exercise his not-so-
often-used improv skills.
"I never did that on the
other shows," he said. "It's
very interesting for me. It's fun
and it's different. (Ferguson) is
very trusting. He doesn't want
it to be set up ... He's one of the
fastest comedy minds I've ever
When Wright isn't seated
next to suited up talk show
hosts, he's traveling around
the country to perform stand
up, usually going a few weeks
at a time then returning home
for a break, which is much
different from the schedule
he maintained when he was
starting out.
"When I started in the clubs,
I would do it Thursday through
Sunday in Boston," he recalls.
"Then when I went on TV I
started traveling around the
country. I would be in comedy
clubs for weeks at a time, then
I went to theaters ... two weeks,

three weeks all in a row. I did
that for years and years and
This isn't to say that Wright
has slowed down. While living
in New York, Wright became
friends with fellow stand up,
Louis C.K., who unexpectedly
asked him to be a consulting
producer for season four of
"It would be like if you asked
me if I wanted to open a bakery
in China with you," Wright
said. "You're not going to ask
me that are you?"
While he's not committed to
working on the next season of
"Louie," he'd love the chance to
work on the show again.
"It's amazing just using your
comedy mind in that way," he
said. "Because usually I do
write my own stand up and
perform it, I don't talk about it
with anyone. I just go out and
do it ... so it was interesting to
discuss all these things with
another comedian, a brilliant
Regardless of whether he
continues to produce, Wright
will stick with what he knows
and loves best - stand up. And
for fans coming to the Royal
Oak show, they can expect the
same dry, nonsensical one-
liners that brought him there
all way from "The Tonight
Show" in 1982.
After decades in comedy
with more accomplishments
than most can dream of, it's
hard to imagine that there's
much territory left for Wright
to conquer. But in the midst
of his stand up, late night
appearances and potential
producing, he may have finally
found something he hasn't
done yet.
"I'd like to join the Air
Let's just hope he's as good a
pilot as he is a comic.

Daily Arts Writer
The story has been told
a million times. Boy meets
girl(s). Boy falls for girl(s). Boy
the situation We Should
and. Hang Out
dozens of Sometime
signals Josh
leading to Sundquist
the bitter Little, Brown
demise of
his romantic
options and ruining any
prospective opportunities
with the girl(s). Really, a
million times.
Well, make it a million and
In Josh Sundquist's ("Just
Don't Fall") upcoming
book of true stories - "We
Should Hang Out Sometime"
- he revisits his failed
relationships, or rather, near-
relationships. From eighth
grade to high school to his
twenties, Sundquist - a
cancer survivor, amputee,
Paralympic skier, motivational
speaker and YouTube
star - guides the reader
through the face-in-hand
awkwardness of adolescence
to the head-banging-against-
wall awkwardness of early
The title comes from
Sundquist's own playful
observation that, to avoid
rejection, you should never
ask anyone "out." Just say, "we
should hang out sometime."
"We should hang out
sometime is so perfect because
it's nearly impossible to say
no to." For the remainder of
the book, whenever Sundquist
is interested in a girl, he uses
tkis move. -
The book operates as
a collection of quasi-
experiments Sundquist
conducts to find out why he is
so unequivocally single.
"I would go back in time
and examine the events of my
failed relationships through
the lens of graphs and charts.
I would then hypothesize and
investigate, tracking down
the girls I had tried to date
and asking them, straight up:
What went wrong? Why didn't
you like me? Why did you reject
As he said, interspersed
throughout the chapters are
his quirky graphs - the likes
of which he uses so often on
his YouTube channel.
A bar graph comparing the
usefulness of "Getting A's"
vs. "Getting Girls." A Venn
diagram concluding that the
perfect combination of Danger
and Romance is a Rooftop
Picnic. A line graph arguing
that the stupidity of popularity
contests is directly correlated
with losing the contest.
The graphs, though
charming and half-witty
at first, seem forced and
gimmicky by the final few
chapters. They drag and break
Sundquist's flow and feel like
an obligation rather than a
treat. When I wanted to hear
more about Sarah Stevens or
Evelyn Williamson, a graph

would interrupt me with
something that could just as


She's just not that into you.
easily be explained in prose and a Paralympic skier and a
(and often was). YouTube sensation).
There is somethingtobe said "If I really want to find0
for Sundquist's graphs though. you on Facebook, no number
Days after finishing his book, of privacy settings is going to
the charts and visuals lingered stop me."
in my mind when much of the Out of context, that's really
story didn't. creepy. But we're so close
Notably, I remembered to Sundquist at this point in
two pie charts comparing the book (Chapter 17) that
frequency of marriage we just accept it and read on,
ceremony objections in especially since the footnote
real life versus in movies. I associated with it says,
wondered to myself, "Where "Creepiest sentence in this
did I see that? Was that on book?"
Tumblr?" No, not Tumblr, Sundquist could so
Bernard. Sundquist. easily dip into exhausting
So be assured: while, upon frustration, bitter nostalgia or
. rgat readng, the graphs seem insipid self-pampering, but his
like a waste of space and a half- tone remains modest, down-
hearted attempt at originality, to-earth and refreshingly
there is some real, lasting unrefined.
value to their simplicity and The same goes for his prose.
accessibility. Oftentimes, the book falls
victim to worn-out cliches
and dim attempts at humor,
*tbut as a whole, "We Should
Sundquist writes Hang Out Sometime" lives up
a sim ple book to the casualness of its title.
It's not trying to be the next
with simple great collection of memoirs
or dazzle book critics who use
sentences. words like "verisimilitude"
and "muse."
In a book with a defined
ceiling, it's refreshing to
Likewise, Sundquist's style find an author accepting his
and storytelling is quick, self- limitations who only delivers
deprecating, and a pleasure to where he can. Sundquist writes
read. He justmakes itlook easy. a simple book with simple
The results are technically sentences, but stories produce
simple prose, but its air of an unexpected sincerity and
effortlessness matches the depth.
book's juvenile topics and lets Sundquist's newest set of
the reader devour page after memoirs comes out Dec. 23.
silly page. If you're looking for a book
Even as he tackles rejection to surprise you or just a way
after rejection, Sundquist to tell your significant other
retains his optimism and that you're "awkward like this
refuses to sway from the guy," pick up this coming-of-
book's generally light-hearted age story.
tone. The final product is an It might not be your favorite
easy-to-read set of tales that book, but "We Should Hang
doesn't beat you over the Out Sometime" is that little
head with morals or cute, but paperback you keep under the
inapplicable, quotes about bed for those rainy nights,
love. alone in your room, without a
Every story feels like it's girlfriend/boyfriend. Simple,
being told by that one kind of quick and pretty funny,
awkward guy at Pizza House it's a breath of fresh air in
who you keep forgetting is a the muggy air of assigned
math geek (and an amputee readings and dense textbooks.



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