MELBOURNE ― When comedian Steven Wright appeared on the "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" in 1982 at age 26, he didn't know where the rest of his career would take him.
He'd made it. Mr. Wright had landed an appearance with the king of late night television.
"It's still is the highlight of my career because I've wanted to go on there since I was 16, so beyond there was just a fantasy. It was unbelievable," Mr. Wright said.
Mr. Wright will be performing at the Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 21 at 8 p.m. and will be bringing his sardonic, dead-pan humor to Melbourne and Central Florida residents.
For Mr. Wright, everyday life is open to interpretation and criticism in his upcoming performance.
"I'll be talking about hundreds of things," said Mr. Wright. "Cars, women and lint. It's like an abstract, surreal interpretation of the world... it is what it is."
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts and an Emerson College alumni, Mr. Wright's comedy and acting career grew exponentially over the past 30 years to include Grammy nominated albums and Academy Award winning short films.
He appeared as himself in Jim Jarmusch's "Coffee and Cigarettes," as the voice of DJ K-Billy in Quentin Tarantino's "Reservoir Dogs" and the voice of Mel in "The Emoji Movie."
"I started out painting in elementary school and painting in high school, abstract painting in college. I started playing the guitar then writing comedy," Mr. Wright said.
The fluidity of his career is due in large part to Mr. Wright's overactive mind when it comes to artistic expression and creation.
"When I started writing material I just never stopped," said Mr. Wright. "I've done many things and being creative... it just keeps going," he said. "It's what I do, I write and try stuff out. I made a couple of short films, was in a few films - but it's all who I am. I just make stuff up."
Creativity for Mr. Wright is more than a concept, it's in his DNA, and like strands of biochemical materials - it's all connected.
"It's like your head is like a clock with little gears running around, creatively I mean, and a writing gear connects to an acting gear, that connect to a music gear that connects to a painting gear. It's all from the same part of your mind, I think. It comes out in different ways," Mr. Wright said.
With the social-political landscape changing in comedy, Mr. Wright's performances haven't wavered much in 38 years.
"My mind is like a fingerprint and my print was abstract, surreal. I didn't decide to do it like that, that's just how it happened," Mr. Wright said. "I didn't have a meeting with myself and say 'I'll do it this way', therefore, I never had another meeting with myself saying: 'We should change this;' it's just how I am."
Even the trivial activities in life, a majority of which Mr. Wright provides commentary on, aren't immune to potentially offending audiences.
"I never had to think about it, because I'm talking about such basic stuff. I've never had to edit anything because nothing ever bothered people," Mr. Wright said. "I wasn't used to having that reaction. Thirty-eight years and it was like I got hit in the head with a two-by-four."
Mr. Wright initially attributed the tension in audiences as a regional hazard; jokes that were offensive in the South may not be in the Northwest.
"Then I would get somewhere else and it would be the same thing and I think the country, in the last year and a half, has gotten more and more uptight, so I had to adjust," Mr. Wright said. "Like a sports team during a football game, you have to adjust, so I adjusted. I had to take this [expletive] out."
Taking it all in stride, Mr. Wright is presently focusing on touring and bringing himself back to the basics that launched his career after his appearance on "The Tonight Show".
"Right now I'm just working on performing live, writing more," Mr. Wright said. "I feel really lucky to be able to do this because creating is like playing; instead of playing with paints or fingerprints you're playing with words. It's a very fun thing. To be able to do it this long, all I ever wanted to do was be on "The Tonight Show"... I never even thought past that."
For Mr. Wright, his creative machine keeps moving.
"If there was a reason I couldn't perform anymore, I don't know what that would be, I could never stop my mind," Mr. Wright said.
Tickets start at $34.50 (with inclusive fees). The Maxwell C. King Center for the Performing Arts is located at 3865 N Wickham Road in Melbourne.
For more information or ticket purchases, call (321) 242-2219 or visit www.kingcenter.com.