There’s a lot to be said for a comedy show filled with good, solid jokes. And Morgan Murphy, former writer for both Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and currently a staff writer on 2 Broke Girls, is one of the best joke writers around. “A lot of people think I’m gay,” she began her New York Comedy Festival show at the UCB Chelsea. “I’m not a lesbian. I’m just sad and it reads the same.”
There was certainly no shortage of great gags at An Evening with Morgan Murphy. Whether she’s admitting that she’s too lazy to get excited about music (“The Beatles could be playing two blocks from my apartment, but if I already took my shoes off, not a chance.”) or confiding that she’d rather have topless photos of herself end up on the internet than video from her teenage slam-poetry days, her stories are peppered with smart, memorable lines.
But perhaps her strongest material was one of her few unconventional bits, which involved a peek into the joke-writing process. Having recently re-discovered an old joke about the movie How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days, she discussed the ways she could approach the bit using “stand-up” time. (“A guy says he broke up with his girlfriend last week, and you’re like, ‘You’ve never had a girlfriend.’”) It was a long but rewarding build for an excellent joke. “Don’t worry, it’s worth this setup,” she assured the crowd, and it was.
Opening act Nate Craig had a few great lines of his own, such as the date who asked if her turkey burger had been grass-fed, or his mother, who is convinced a woman could make it in the NBA if only given a chance. “The problem with realizing your mother is crazy,” he explained, “is realizing that the person who said you can do anything you want in life is crazy.”
As exemplified by her stellar Twitter feed, Murphy specializes in relatable and fun-to-retell jokes. She doesn’t jog, she argues, because husbands who kill their wives always claim they were last seen going for a run. “If a guy goes on TV and says he saw me doing something before noon,” she warns, “he murdered me in my face.”
But whether it was the 10:30 p.m. time slot or Murphy’s naturally low-energy style, the show petered out as the clock approached midnight. A laid-back comic who tends to pause, rather than segue, between jokes, she didn’t build the momentum necessary to sustain a late-night show, even in front of a packed house. An hour of solid jokes is an achievement in itself, but it’s not always enough to carry certain situations. Though Murphy’s affable charm and sharp comedic mind are always impressive, they ultimately didn’t push the needle beyond “really good” to “absolutely great.”