Due to a spotty phone connection, the early portion of this interview with Sam Morril was unintelligible and therefore unpublishable.
Not to worry though, dear reader, Morril and I were mostly talking about Carmelo Anthony’s legacy while our phones figured their shit out and did you really come here for sports stuff?
Probably not. Chances are you’re reading this because you like Morril, a fantastic stand-up comedian who is headlining Goodnights Comedy Club this week, or you like my writing, which I truly appreciate.
If you aren’t familiar with the work Morril or I do and you’re here on a whim, welcome. We think you’ll enjoy your time with us.
Even though the 11-minute Q and A on Wednesday afternoon could not be transcribed in full, Morril’s answers to my questions about Anthony and Morril’s beloved New York Knicks, comedy club owners, gigs he doesn’t have to do and more came through loud and clear.
Enjoy the interview, follow Morril on Twitter and don’t forget The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes at the end.
Tony Castleberry: Now that you’ve had some time to ponder it, what are your thoughts on the Carmelo Anthony era with the Knicks?
Sam Morril: I guess you could say it wasn’t what we hoped. He’s a great player. He’s a guy I always admired. When you bring a guy like that in, you hope to get a championship, right? That didn’t happen.
I think he’s a Hall of Fame talent, but I wish he was surrounded by the right pieces (with the Knicks). He’s a hard guy to build around. … He’s not like LeBron where you just put him in there and it’s like, you’re in the (NBA) Finals. He’s a guy that needs, I think, a really strong point guard. He excelled with guys like Jason Kidd and Chauncey Billups. It’s not gonna happen when Langston Galloway’s your No. 2 option. No disrespect to him, but you’ve gotta put pieces around (Anthony).
TC: Are most comedy club managers cool or are they like the ones we often see in movies and on TV shows? Is the stereotype of the troubled, scumbag comedy club owner true?
SM: It’s not untrue. [interviewer, Morril laugh]
Look, they’re some of the best people I’ve met and some of the worst people I’ve met, like in any profession. The restaurant business is probably similar and the bar business is probably similar.
Some of those guys, you see that TV character and some of them are seedy, but some of them wanna be comics in some way and they wanna ball bust, and they’re just not particularly good at it so it comes off as seedy, I think.
I’ve definitely done the gigs where they’re like, “Yeah, we’re not gonna pay you what we said we’re gonna pay you.” Those are a little easier to avoid now that I have representation, but when you’re just starting out, that’s a problem for sure.
TC: Along those lines, you don’t have to play clubs you don’t want to play anymore, do you?
SM: Isn’t it weird to get used to…I’ll get an offer like: “Tennessee, $200” and I’m like, “Oh wow, I can say no to that.” [interviewer laughs] It’s insane. I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t have to go do a show for no money.” There’s a point in your career where you just say yes to everything and you get to a certain point where you’re like, “I’m working. This is my job.” It is nice to pick and choose a little bit now for sure.
TC: It is a job and I think some people at comedy clubs don’t fully understand that. They’re like, “Look at this funny person. He probably has a day job.” No, this is what this person does every single day.
SM: People will be like, “Hey, can you do this benefit for me?” and I’m like, “Can you tell me a little bit about it?” I’ve done that a ton of times where I just walk in and they think just because they’re doing a charity event that I want to bomb. Maybe I’ll give money to your event instead of performing for a bunch of people whose dinner I’m interrupting because they didn’t want to see a comedian. If you want me to perform, set it up right, ya know?
TC: Absolutely. Has your definition of bombing changed since you first started doing stand-up?
SM: That’s a good question. I don’t know. It definitely still hurts. I can act like it doesn’t, but I get off stage and it hits me hard. … The ones that are the worst are when you’re at minute seven or eight, and you just know, this ain’t gonna work. It’s almost like going on a date with someone and you can just tell before the drinks are on the bar: “Oh, we’re not right for each other at all, but I have this person here.” You know it’s not a match, and you’re just in it. “Let me find some kind of connection and maybe I can figure this out,” but sometimes you’re at minute 40 and you’re like, “This just didn’t happen.” You get off (stage) and it hurts a little.
Sometimes people are like, “Cheer up, you’re doing fine.” Well, give it a minute. [interviewer laughs] Give me 10 minutes. They expect you to be thrilled right after, but it takes a minute.
(Bombing) is rejection of my work. I put the work into it.
TC: I’ve interviewed Gary Gulman a few times, Dave Attell…
SM: Great comics.
TC: Yeah, and they’ve been doing it for so long and I still hear them talk about, “I had a bad set the other night.” I guess it’s always gonna be that way and as depressing as that can be, I feel like it also kind of keeps you guys on your toes a little bit, doesn’t it?
SM: Yeah, because every night is new. I’m at the (Comedy) Cellar it feels like every night and it’s a great thing, but part of being a comic is having new experiences. If you feel like you’re in a funk, it’s because you’re not taking enough chances in your life and you’re falling into too much of a routine. That’s problematic. You have to force yourself to do stuff outside your comfort zone sometimes. I’m not really that type of person, but I’m realizing that, as a comic, that’s the only way you’ll grow. As a person, it’s also the only way you’ll grow. You don’t want to be that nebbishy, 48-year-old at a coffee shop every day.
TC: Nobody likes that person.
SM: No one, but you also have to write. It’s something I haven’t figured out yet. I’m still figuring it out.
TC: Joe Machi starts in on you right away when you’re on Bennington or a podcast. He’s got that cherubic face and his voice is so nice, but gets right to roasting you. It seems like he’s a cutthroat kind of dude. Is he?
SM: A lot of people say, “He’s only like that with you.” I know him so well that I guess there’s a comfort zone there. I met him Day 1 in comedy. How many comics can say they met a comic on their first day doing this and the guy ended up being one their closest friends?
It’s fun. I feel like we share…we argue a lot. We disagree on a lot of stuff, but he definitely will hear you out, respect your opinion, then tell you why you’re wrong and why you’re terrible at comedy. [interviewer laughs] He’s good to talk trash with. There’s a code of honor (in trash talking). You don’t go too real. Some people make that mistake when they’re ball-busting. They’re like, “Oh yeah? Well how about that time your sister died?” Maybe you should avoid that if you want to keep this thing going. … You don’t dig too deep on that stuff and Joe’s pretty good at that.
TC: Well, I’ve interviewed both of you and Sam, you are a much better interview. You can tell Joe I said that.
SM: Wow! Oh my God! Suck it, Machi.
Here it is, The Best Tweet I Can Find in Five Minutes:
HELLO just a reminder that we think breastfeeding is private but some dude jogging shirtless is not
— Cameron Esposito (@cameronesposito) October 19, 2017