25 Questions with Stand Up Comedian Sam Morril
Written by Joseph Santiago
Sam Morril sat down with Best Comedy Tickets. Seated at New York Comedy Club, we spoke about writing material, favorite comedy clubs, best advice, handle hecklers and more.
What do you wish someone had told you about show business before you entered it?
I had no idea how often I’d have to get naked on casting calls. If I had known, I would’ve probably gone a little harder at P90x core synergistics.
Where do you get your material?
I sold my soul to the devil a while back, and he’s been pretty good about returning the favor. Throws me lotsa jokes. He’s great with word economy.
What happens if they don’t laugh?
You keep going ‘til they do laugh or you continue to tell jokes to no laughs. Not a lot of options.
How often do you perform comedy per week?
Every night. Sometimes I try to live life, though, you know, so not every joke starts with, “so I was onstage the other night and….” You need to live life a little, not just to make you a better comedian, but also to make you a more decent person.
What are you favorite comedy clubs that you perform at?
I love the Comedy Cellar. That’s home. Some other clubs are doing good stuff too. I dig what New York Comedy Club is doing. It’s an under new ownership and they’re hungry and doing it the right way. I like Gotham because it’s so professional. They all wear suits. Makes me feel all fancy while I’m telling my not as fancy jokes.
How often do you write jokes?
Not as much as I should. Sometimes interviewers ask a shitload of questions in an interview and it really- uh, nevermind.
When did you feel like you were a pro comedian?
When I was paying my bills through only comedy.
How did you know you wanted to be a comedian or did it just happen?
It was weird. I didn’t really put in any hard work. One day I was like, “I think I want to be a comedian” and this mustachioed man overheard me and said, “kid, you’ve got the ticket.” It’s been smooth sailing since then.
Who would you say are your influences in the comedy world?
I have many. There’s a lot that can influence your comedy if you just walk around paying attention.
Dave Attell has been a huge influence. I watch him and think that in a world of people trying to make points, Attell’s point is to always be funny.
What are the most important rules you live by?
Always get 2 hours of sleep before a morning flight. Not sure why, but that has become a thing.
What was your favorite book as a kid, and what does that say about you?
My favorite book as a kid was The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway was straight to the point, nothing fancy. The love story was really fascinating to me, and that last line still kills me. The main woman, Brett, hints how she and the protagonist, Jake, would’ve made a good couple. She had slept with the matador and one of his former friends, and Jake was impotent from a war injury. He says, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” Sad stuff. I ate it up. I don’t know what it says about me…Maybe that I connected to endings that weren’t particularly happy because it felt real. Life isn’t wrapped in a neat little bow, why should a book be? Also, I liked his style of writing. He didn’t waste words.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
“GET FUNNIER.”- Dave Attell
“Be nice!”- My mom
Given your feelings about the state of our culture, how do you avoid despair?
I used to drink coffee and that would lift me, but I have an ulcer so I can’t do anything that gives me joy. I am not currently avoiding despair.
What three things would you take with you to a deserted island?
C’mon man. This one has no business here. This has nothing to do with comedy.
Do you have any quotes that you live your life by or think of often?”
“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” – Leonard Cohen. Also, “two in the pink, one in the stink.” Both very important.
How to handle hecklers from the stage?
Be in the moment. I’m nicer and more patient than I used to be, but I’ll still lay the smack down on occasion.
“What advice would you give your younger self?”
Stop being so dramatic. Most of this doesn’t matter. Then I would turn and say it to my current self.
Advice to your younger self just starting in comedy career?
Work harder. This is going to be even harder than you think.
How long do you spend developing new material?
‘Til the joke is done. There’s no timeline. Sometimes I’ll have a joke for so long and I know it needs one more thing. It’s very frustrating. Creating is more fun than editing.
You have done a lot of jokes about your father — Being raised by a single mother. What was your childhood?
My mom married a man who legally adopted me at a young age and who I consider my real dad so she wasn’t a single mother for too long, but I guess those few years formed a tight bond between me and my ma. Kinda like that Tupac song “Dear Mama” except my mom was not a black queen and she also never did crack.
What’s your drink of choice?
A Manhattan on the rocks. I dislike when bars serve it up in a martini glass. As a man I don’t like the martini glass. That being said, I think it’s sexy as hell when my girlfriend drinks a dirty martini. I feel like we’re in a film noir and I’m questioning her, even though we’ve been dating for quite some time.
Greatest cartoon of all time?
So many…My personal favorites are The Simpsons, South Park, Family Guy, Archer, The Critic, and Dr. Katz.
So the stereotype of comedians being horribly depressed and neurotic is true?
I don’t know. It seems that many are depressed. We have to constantly address our shortcomings and flaws, and we live in our head. I think lots of people are depressed, but they are able to find more distractions. I have depression and am neurotic and my stress is overwhelming. I think my stress has caused this ulcer and it has caused endless back pain and trips to the chiropractor. I’m too young for this shit. I am also very happy. I don’t know if it’s chemical or habits or what, but on paper, my life is great. I try to take in the good moments. There are a lot of good moments. I’m grateful for those good moments and for my friends.
Do you ever get tired of being a comedian?
No. I get fed up with the routine sometimes because it’s so repetitive, but it beats the shit out of any other job. I love stand up so much. Jokes really make me happy.
So at the end of your day, what’s your ultimate goal?
Never staying in a comedy condo again. Getting really, really good at comedy and being happy at the same time. Hope it’s possible!
Probably the best stand up set I’ve seen on Conan