New York City. 8 million-some ever growing, gentrifying and culturally blending faces strong and lately, there’s one that has been standing out- literally- if you frequent mid-town, 7th Avenue in particular. If on your daily commute you glanced upwards to the corner of 7th and 34th, you’d be greeted by the face of a bushy-browed, young man with a 5’clock shadow that even I myself am envious of, belonging to none other than comedian Sam Morril on a new billboard advertising a brand new talk show. Sam is a born and raised New Yorker, and in the company of iconic NY comics of old, the Larry David’s, Seinfelds and Woody Allens, Sam also happens to be a die-hard Knicks fan. He just landed a self-described “dream job” working for MSG Networks riffing on sport headlines of the day with other comedy friends and sports celebs, thus leading to the self-describing name of the show “People Talking Sports” set to premiere Monday on MSG Network. All summer long beginning July 10th, People Talking Sports* (*And Other Stuff) will air Monday –through Thursday at 11:00PM EST.
I went with Morril on the set of the new show to get a look behind the scenes of his new gig and had a chance to ask him his thoughts about basketball, comedy, and New York City.
What’s something that’s been on your mind a lot lately?
Sports. Way too much because of this new show. It makes you put things in perspective. People are like, “Trump’s new health care plan is a disaster!” And I’m like, “Damn. Also, Chris Paul to the Rockets. Crazy summer. Thousands will die needlessly and two point guards in one backcourt?”
I think so far Ron Baker and I are the biggest offseason moves by the Knicks. I’m very excited to do this show. I’ve been a fan for as long as I can remember.
I would describe the show as kind of like Real Time with Bill Maher, but without the n-word.
Sam’s best memory as a Knicks fan…
The most exciting moment was Larry Johnson’s 4-point play. It was so clutch and against such a hated rival, The Indiana Pacers. I remember Larry Johnson was so fired up after hitting the three, and Chris Childs grabbed him like, “Dude, you still gotta hit the free throw.” And he was like, “right, right.”
Looks like you’ve gotten to meet and talk with some big names already, any favorites or memorable standouts as a fan yourself?
I love Walt Frazier. He’s such a legend and so thoughtful. He was kind and really generous with his time. I talked to some greats like Dr. J, Allen Iverson, George Gervin, Clyde Drexler, Dominique Wilkins, and more. Talking to John Starks was pretty cool for me. That was my guy. Undersized, but played with such heart. The city really got behind him and seemed to connect with him. I still have his jersey from when I was a kid, and it still fits (I haven’t really filled out yet). John Wallace and Ken Daneycko were really fun too. Hopefully, they’ll be regulars.
on doing comedy in NYC….
I really do feel like New York has the perfect comedy energy. I mean, there’s something about the struggle living here that makes you funny. It’s hard not to be in a constant state of frustration. The other day, the train went express without announcement and this guy turns to me, “you believe this fucking shit?!” And I scream back, “it’s bullshit!” Real New Yorkers communicate through complaints. It’s therapeutic, but also frustration is good for comedy. A lot of good jokes have the setup of “you believe this shit?”
I think I’m growing. I’m constantly humbled. Every turn in this silly career choice is harder than I anticipated. So much more goes into this than being good at stand-up. I’m excited to tape my next special. A lot of relationship stuff, some weird road stories. I like relationship jokes because they’re relatable, but also personal. I also like jokes. When did it become uncool to write jokes? So many comics are doing this confessional comedy. It’s cool that you’re personal, but how about a few punchlines sprinkled in there? Also, these comics who do long lengthy setups with no payoff or comics who act like they’re dropping knowledge, but they’re saying nothing. The worst. I guess my comedy is trying to avoid being that, while also trying to stay true to who I am.
Any nice words or shoutouts to frienemy comedian Joe Machi? Any chance of an on-air appearance reunion?
I’ve got some great stuff in store for Machi on this show. He’s playing a sports troll on the show, who speaks in hyperbole and is mocking that type of character. You’re not gonna wanna miss it.
words to live by….
Keep getting funnier and don’t be a dick.
Favorite joke you’re ever heard/hardest you’ve ever laughed…
There are so many…I heard a Mike Vecchione joke recently: “I fight with my girlfriend constantly. It’s tough because life is hard then I go home and fight with her. It’s like being a boxer and getting pummeled in the ring. then going back to my corner and having my corner man kick my ass.” I might have messed up the wording. He’s got so many great jokes.
Check out People Talking Sports this Monday on MSG and you can also listen to Sam’s podcast called Keeping Joe with Joe Machi, Phil Hanley, and Liz – the Comedy Cellar manager.