Comedian Sam Morril always knew he was funny. And being a regular at the famed Comedy Cellar is, well, just a cherry on top. “I don’t have a great answer for why I became a comic,” the boy-next-door handsome 31 year-old mused. “I think you do what you’re good at at a young age, and I just started really young.”
Morril’s first gig was at age 18; he was underage even for some of the bar venues he was performing at. “I remember my first gig was horrible,” Morril admitted. “But I got a hint of something and I chased that.”
The now-full-time comic did a lot of “part-time menial work” before breaking into the business. “I wasn’t good at stuff,” Morril joked. “I worked at a catering company for a month and I remember buying a suit [for the job] and then I didn’t make any money doing it. It wasn’t a good investment. Morril even worked as an academic tutor for a year. “I was so bad, it’s embarrassing,” Morril laughed. “Kids would ask me stuff and I’d be like ‘that’s a great question. Sorry I have to go to the bathroom’ and look it up. Then I’d be like ‘wait you didn’t know that?'”
His first “splash” onto the national comedy scene was winning the prestigious Atlanta-based Laughing Skull Festival. The prize: a year’s worth of touring on the road. At 23, Morril was officially a working a comic. A few years later and Morril was performing stand up sets for Howie Mandel and George Lopez on season 11 of “America’s Got Talent,” on “Late Night with Stephen Colbert,” and being featured on “Conan.”
Today, he has a residency at Comedy Cellar and is featured in at least three shows a night, sometimes going into the early hours of the morning on stage. Morril also tours nationally, opening for Amy Schumer in arenas and headlining his own shows in comedy clubs throughout the U.S. Morril met Schumer through mutual friends comedians Rachel Feinstein and Mark Norman. “[Amy] is so cool. She’s just like ‘do whatever you want,'” Morril explained. “She’s so generous.”
Morril, a New York native, has lived in almost every neighborhood of the city: Chelsea, Upper East Side, Upper West Side, and Brooklyn. “I’ve learned that as long as I’m on the island, I’m OK,” Morril joked. A self-described neurotic, Morril can’t see himself leaving New York. After attending college in New Orleans during when Hurricane Katrina hit, he moved back to the city and graduated from New York University. “It’s part of me, the city. I’m very New York in how I act,” Morril said. His stand-up material comes from observations, life stories, and “things that hurt.” Morril credits himself to making light of darker emotions: “you make them feel good because you made a good joke.”
The die-hard Knicks fan hosts his own New York sports show “People Talking Sports” on MSG network, with guests like Justin Long, Latrell Spreewell, and Michael Che on weekly. Morril invented the casual format of the show, and has full reins on its creative direction.
Morril’s favorite platform, though, is stripped down comedy clubs doing the stand-up that he loves most. “Certain clubs just do it the right way. The make you feel valued,” Morril said. “I’ve done shows in every bad venue you can imagine, so when you do a show and they make you feel valued, you feel it.”
Morril’s favorite club to perform at happens to be in Madison, Wisconsin. “It’s a college town. They’re smart, they get it. I love the Midwest,” Morril said. “They’re not connected to the entertainment world. In New York or L.A. sometimes, they’ll gasp. In the Midwest, they have real problems, they have real lives, people there work blue collar jobs. They make for really good audience members…they seem like they’re not as easily offended.”
Like most comedians, Morril’s sets are provocative, and that’s on purpose. Morril discusses gun violence, sex, and other topical issues. “I definitely poke a bit,” Morril said, the son of lawyers. “There’s a bit in my special that will definitely get some blowback but I’m OK with that,” Morril explained. Just for context: that bit is about the headline of a baby getting eaten by an alligator at Disney in Florida. But like all great comics, the true meaning of a joke lays beneath the surface. “It’s really about a woman who got very upset after one of my shows and sent me an email,” Morril disclosed. “She was so angry that it was almost like it had to be a bit. It was kind of a canvas for what became a bit but it’s not really about that.” The line in question: I don’t want to come off as a wacky right-wing nut job but I do think if that baby was carrying a gun he’d still be with us. But as Morril explained, it’s “not about that event. I’m not attacking the child or the mother of the child. I’m attacking the woman who took it upon herself to be a social justice warrior.”
Looking to the future, Morril hopes to be performing in front of larger audiences. “I want my own cable sitcom show,” Morril said. He has a pilot in the works. “It’s something I put a lot of work into. With the garbage of TV, I don’t think it takes too much to stand out,” Morril said. “Are you going to watch ‘Young Shelton’ for the rest of your life?” Morril hopes his sitcom will follow the likes of the Larry Sanders Show in comedic brilliance.
From stage to screen, Morril has the talent and humor of a star. You will know the name Sam Morril.
Check out his comedy special “Class Act”, available on iTunes.