Many comics dream of one day moving to what might be ground zero for stand-up comedy: New York City. But Sam Morril didn’t have to wish for someday, he was born and raised in Manhattan, surrounded by some of the best comedy clubs in the nation. And despite the pandemic shutting down much of the stand-up scene in the last year, Morril actually managed to utilize the city’s rooftops, filming his own outdoor comedy special in the midst of the black hole of 2020.
This Friday and Saturday, June 11 and 12, he will perform three shows at the Atlantic City Comedy Club at the Celebrity Theater inside the Claridge Hotel. We got to chat him up for a few minutes while he was taking the train home recently. Here is what he had to say.
Ryan Loughlin: What initially got you into the idea of becoming a stand-up comedian?
Sam Morril: I wanted my life to be really hard and not satisfying.
RL: Were you the traditional class clown growing up?
SM: Yeah, I would say so. But I was at an all-boys school, so I think my humor was bit too raunchy right out of the gate. So I had to find what material worked for everybody.
RL: Who were some of your biggest influences comedically?
SM: When I was young I watched “The Simpsons” a lot. And I loved Bill Murray and anything that was dry and funny and hard. But I was also into Jim Carrey. I actually had to get surgery done on my vocal cords after doing too many Jim Carrey impressions in kindergarten.
RL: As far as your writing process is concerned, where does your material come from? What inspires you?
SM: I have no idea. If I knew I would have so many more jokes, but I really have no idea. I just sit on the train and hope something hits me.
RL: Do you write your material out tightly beforehand or do you prefer to just let things go freely onstage?
SM: My style has always been very written, so I try to prepare ideas ahead of time that are pretty well thought out. Because I don’t want to waste the audience’s time or just bore them, but you have to feel it out a little bit, too. Sometimes I’ll have an idea that’s funny and it falls completely flat, but that doesn’t mean it’s not funny, it just means I need to come up with a new way of presenting it. A lot of it is just about how you say it. It could be as simple as a word choice needing to be changed.
RL: Have you been able to work much during the pandemic?
SM: I actually was able to put out a special called ‘Up on the Roof’ that I recorded. It was shot on strangers’ rooftops. I just wanted to stay busy, and I wanted to have one thing from last year that didn’t make me want to kill myself.
RL: Was it harder to connect with an audience outdoors? It seems like it would lose the intimate vibe of a comedy club.
SM: (Sarcastically) Nah … I kinda like when helicopters go by. I really got into that. Sometimes I’m indoors and I’m wondering, “Where is all the noise? Why isn’t a homeless guy just peeing in the corner?” That kinda bothers me. I miss that.