Beat Me With Trophies: Thoughts On Morgan Murphy’s “Irish Goodbye”

Once, while describing his love of alternative comedy and the great Comedians of Comedy Tour, Patton Oswalt said that the best part about making comedy more accessible was that you could watch a comedian grow and shift as time went on–the same way you could a musician or artist.  And his efforts certainly paid off.  More and more in the past few years, we’ve seen the community of comedic artists grow in leaps and bounds, and not in the schlocky unfunny way of the 80’s and early 90’s.  Through communities like Twitter, Pandora, and Vine, these alternative comedians have been allowed to grow and thrive–never content to tell jokes about airplane food and your bitchy wife.  It’s led to numerous opportunities to see young comedians try, fail, and (hopefully) eventually succeed.  And I think those of us who are lucky enough to have followed comedians like Morgan Murphy see Irish Goodbye as something of a massive payoff in that sense.

Released last week as an album and a special on Netflix, Irish Goodbye is Morgan Murphy’s debut comedy special, and it serves as a terrific example of that “overnight success” that takes years and years to accomplish.  Murphy’s deadpan delivery and strange, sometimes bleak sense of humor has always made for an amazing show, as viewers of Comedians of Comedy: Live At The Troubadour and the audiences of her frequent performances in LA and New York will be very willing to tell you.  She’s made a further name for herself online in the “brevity is the soul of wit”-soaked world of Twitter, and after watching her make one hilarious joke after another, it’s safe to say that she was completely prepared for this first album.  And the proof is in the pudding.

Irish Goodbye is fantastic.  Filled with Murphy’s sometimes-graphic, sometimes-profane sense of humor, this freshman special has the added benefit of being a very visible display of how a comedian can shift and grow over time.  Though she still retains a lot of the same monotone mock-seriousness that serves as a foundation for her material, I was surprised to hear a certain lightness that wasn’t quite there before.  She’s a little less quiet–a little more forceful than she was before.  And while at times this doesn’t always fit as snugly as it should, at other times it makes the whole special more accessible and enjoyable.  I love listening to her softly cackle (answering the age-old question: is it possible for person cackle softly?  Yes.) at the absurdity of some of her jokes.  I appreciate that she’s allowing just a little bit of warmness into her delivery–enough to keep audiences from believing her to be just a female Steven Wright, which Irish Goodbye most definitely proves that she is not.

However, it’s important to note that this sort of transition isn’t the most obvious thing about Morgan Murphy’s debut comedy special.  What’s most obvious about Irish Goodbye is that it’s damned funny, and a worthwhile offering to the alternative comedy world.

Morgan Murphy’s Irish Goodbye was released January 21st, 2014, and is available on iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix.

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