September 09, 1985 12:00 PM

HBO (Sat. Sept. 7, 10 p.m. ET)

Here’s something that pay-cable channels do well: comedy. HBO, Cinemax and Showtime are giving comics a new outlet on TV besides Carson, Letterman and the occasional sitcom. But humor, like pizza toppings and sex symbols, is a matter of intense personal taste. I watched three cable comedy specials this week. Two I didn’t like: Apt. 2-C Starring George Carlin on HBO, a dull-edged parody of sitcoms with booger jokes, and Cinemax Comedy Experiment: American Carrott, featuring British comic Jasper Carrott, whose jokes may be new in England but are aging unto ancient over here. Still, cable should be patted on the back for giving comedians their own specials to play with. Sometimes it pays off with a jackpot, as with Steven Wright. The guy never smiles. He delivers lines like a Dangerfield on drugs. His jokes tiptoe on the fine edge of sanity—for almost a second, they make sense, then you laugh at them. For instance: “I like to tease my plants. I water them with ice cubes.” Or: “I’m writing a book. I have the page numbers done. Now I just have to fill in the rest.” Or: “Today I was…no, that wasn’t me.” If those don’t seem funny in print, then, as they say in comedy, ya hadda be there. So be there in front of your tube to watch Steven Wright.

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