Comedian Sam Morril is a star on the rise. His ‘Class Act’ comedy tour is selling out shows across the country, he has a hit Netflix special ‘Same Time Tomorrow,’ was interviewed by David Letterman on ‘That’s My Time’ and is hosting two podcasts: ‘We Might Be Drunk’ with fellow comedian Mark Normand and ‘Games with Names’ with NFL legend Julian Edelman. I spoke with Morril at the Olive Tree Cafe, located above his home club the Comedy Cellar, where we discussed why he named his whiskey Bodega Cat, what you can tell about your audience by their drinks and whether or not he thinks now is a tough time for comedy.
What was your first drink?
Probably wine. The good thing about being a New Yorker is when you first start drinking it’s either house parties or the real first move is to go to a Chinese restaurant because they don’t care what age you are.
And your first drink of choice?
I definitely liked whiskey early on because I felt that’s what you should drink as a man. That’s what Bogart drank and that’s what they drank in the old west. They’re not ordering two spritzers in a John Wayne movie.
When did you start doing your own whiskey Bodega Cat?
Mark Normand and I have a podcast ‘We Might Be Drunk’ and it quickly became evident that whiskey was our drink. All these celebrities have their own alcohols and I was like why can’t we do it? I put it out there in the podcast and we got so many emails we just went with who felt the most legit.
Were you involved in creating the profile?
Yeah, we got a bunch of samples and when we tasted them and we didn’t know that you’re not supposed to swallow. So we got pretty loaded on an episode drinking nine of them. We did it March Madness style like now these two need to go head to head.
For people not from New York explain the name Bodega Cat.
Late at night you go into the bodega — maybe you’ve had a few drinks and you’re looking for a snack — and a little cat will pop outta nowhere. And you just pet the cat, it’s this weird bonding moment. You’re always happy to see a bodega cat — that’s how we want people to feel about our whiskey.
And kind of the fun of it is that people might not get the name right away. I had one guy ask ‘how will they know what this means in other states’ and I said well who the hell knows what a Whistle Pig is?
When you’re riffing with audience members during your shows you usually start with what someone is drinking.
It’s their night off. They’re loose. What they’re drinking tells you about the person. If someone’s having a fruity drink I’m assuming it’s been an easier day. If someone’s drinking a Long Island Ice Tea I’m like what are you running from?
And you usually buy them a drink after you roast them.
That’s my way of saying thanks for playing along. If they’re drinking a really bad beer I’m like get them a real beer. Sometimes they’ll want me to do a shot with them and they’ll ask for a Kamikaze. I don’t want something sugary — if I’m doing a shot I want to feel it.
What have you learned about the different cities you’ve toured in?
Missouri will let you ride with anything. They don’t get offended unless you call Missouri a s$#!-hole. They can call it a s$#!-hole but you can’t. They have that state pride. Portland is a very easily triggered city. I hate using that word but it’s just how it is. It’s that weird energy like we’re cool, we really are. It almost feels like a comedy insecurity.
Sometimes other places have that reputation, like Salt Lake City, but they’ve gone so far in the other direction like we’re not that city anymore. So now they laugh at the darkest stuff and they’re screaming out ‘more dead baby jokes.’ And I’m like I’m giving you plenty, settle down.
Bridgeport, Connecticut is one place I’m not a fan of. Connecticut’s just a tough state as a whole for me. I think they have a weird insecurity. They’re not New York. They’re not Pennsylvania and they’re not Massachusetts. They’re not even Rhode Island.
How important is touring for comedy?
You can tell when a comedian does their Netflix special and they didn’t tour. You’ve got to run your material through the mud. If you’re only doing your act in New York or Los Angeles I can tell. I’ll do New York jokes in my special but I better make sure they kill in Kansas City or else why I am putting out something that’s released for everyone.
A lot of older comedians are saying this is the worst time for performing because young people are over-sensitive.
Personally, I don’t think it’s a tough time. This is the best my career’s ever been. So when people say it’s the worst time, I’m like well I’m having fun. I understand a lot of the older comics complain about colleges but who is that? A 60-year-old comic? Should he be performing for 18 year olds? Maybe that’s not your crowd anymore. They’re probably not talking about what the audience is going through.
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