The full title of Sam Morril’s Positive Influence is Amy Schumer Presents Sam Morril: Positive Influence. Comedy Central did the same thing last year with a Mark Normand special. At first I thought this was just a marketing move, and a nice way for her to leverage her fame to help a comic who’s just starting to pop. It turns out that after a nice, bizarre black and white short that introduces Sam Morril itself, Schumer hops onstage to introduce him personally.
Now, this is unusual, but her intro is nothing but effusive and practically gushing—she cedes the floor to him quickly and graciously. Still, it’s a little distracting, and where it means to anoint Morril, it ends up undercutting him, and doesn’t feel necessary.
He proves as much almost immediately, with strong point-of-view jokes asking why people refer to babies as ‘miracles’ instead of adults, when “they’re doing way cooler shit. There are no babies that can dunk,” and talking about how the worst antisemitism he’s ever experienced was a woman at a store telling him they don’t sell seltzer.
He gets great range out of his muted, gravely growl and Bruce Campbell smirk. He can joke about how a woman on a dating app for prison inmates has a profile that said she loves the outdoors—noting “yeah, I mean: obviously”—without coming across as self-satisfied. This ends up being a really, really useful skill when the special transitions to more conventional material and bro-y observations about how we “all have a little gay in us.” Sometimes, it’s put to the test a bit too much, especially when, as with an exhausting number of specials these days, it comes to Caitlyn Jenner. Saying that Jenner has “never worked a day in her life” because she’s been living off Bruce is just a weird angle, and now that Jenner isn’t really a topical subject for a joke, its suspicious how many comics choose to go so far out of their way to get a few jabs in. It feels out of place in the rest of the special. If this is a repetitive point to bring up in reviews it might be a repetitive point to bring up in specials.
But otherwise, Morril proves himself to be a savvy storyteller and refreshing, minimalist performer, accomplishing a lot with an economic performance style. Next time, he’ll introduce himself, but he’s already earned it.
Graham Techler is a New York-based writer and comedian. You’d be doing him a real solid by following him on Twitter @grahamtechler or on Instagram @obvious_new_yorker. A real solid.