The reason it took deadpan, surreal, and cerebral comedian Steven Wright more than 20 years to release a follow-up to his supreme 1985 album, I Have a Pony, was that he knew that if he wanted to keep performing live he would have to have a third album's worth of material. After all, if you give his fans a recording, they'll listen to it repeatedly, day after day, memorizing the set to the point where they could do Wright's material as well as he could. The audio version of his Comedy Central television special When the Leaves Blow Away, I Still Have a Pony is an album worth the 20-year wait, and no doubt you'll soon know someone who can repeat it verbatim. It's filled with great stories -- like when Steven gets fired from the pet store for braiding the snakes -- and those sharp one-liners that run the spectrum of strangeness from the almost Henny Youngman-esque "I bought an iPod that can either hold 5,000 songs or one phone message from my mother" to the truly weird "She would drink so much she would slur her pauses." If there's a way to tell this Pony from its predecessor, it's that the practically asleep comedian is somehow even more comfortable and displays plenty of trust that his audience is smart. Smart enough to take some stories that aren't really jokes, but witty and bizarre ramblings that play with words and reality itself. He uses these merely witty moments as left jabs between his right hooks ("My friend has a trophy wife, but I don't think he won first place") and breaks up his set by grabbing the acoustic guitar and delivering a couple songs like truly evil "The Kitten Song" and the great "Mumble Song." "Wind chimes are for stupid people so they'll know that there's a breeze." Great stuff that will keep his cult as they always have been: loyal and laughing.
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