Getting to Know You: SUGAR DADDY’s Sam Morrison
Grief and humor collide in Sam Morrison’s Sugar Daddy, the hit breakout from Edinburgh Fringe Festival soon making its Off-Broadway premiere at SoHo Playhouse this January.
Dealing with the death of his partner Jonathan from COVID-19 in 2021, Morrison tackles life’s cruelties in a show that toes the line between comedy and tragedy, as he meditates on love, loss, diabetes…and seagull attacks.
In Theatrely’s emerging artist interview series, Getting to Know You, we sat down with Sam to…well, get to know him better. The comedian has been seen in the segment “Bananamore’s” on The Drew Barrymore Show and has also appeared on The Stand Up on NBC and in The Tonight Show showcase.
Learn more about Sam, his artistry, and Sugar Daddy below.
Why did you title your play Sugar Daddy?
I can’t give that away! You’ll have to come see the show ;)
(I’ll say this, I hope we all find our sugar daddy.)
What do you like most about being able to share your story with a live audience?
It’s the community. There’s a point in the hour when everyone gets on the same page: laughing, feeling, reacting the same way. Especially today, I think people really value live shows not just to see the artist but to feel a part of a community. My favorite comedians are a part of the room. I really try to be present, talk to, and react to the audience. [I] calibrate things so they all feel connected to me, but also each other.
But also, with this show I’m often just grateful to get to do it. I miss Jonathan so much, and I feel close to him when I do this show. I’m not very good at talking about grief off stage… but I want to so much, if that makes sense? I’m not totally sure why but there’s something that opens me up when I get on stage.
In the show, you talk a lot about bodies and how your preference for a sexual partner strays from today’s outdated queer standards that we can’t seem to shake. Is there a conscious decision to include that in Sugar Daddy?
Okay, these are good questions, and I’m not gonna answer any of them directly. My answer is yes and no. I apologize.
No, because this is just my story. Sex is a big part of the show. I’m gay, I’m into daddy bears, I met Jonathan at Bear Week. If I were a straight comedian into blondes, I’d probably make jokes about that, too. And I kind of have to because the audience comes in with society’s idea of fit, young people as the ideal of beauty. So to tell the story, at least to some extent, I have to challenge that and bring them into how I see the world.
I love talking about it cause it’s just ridiculous how obsessed our society is with skinny people. It pisses me off, it’s something I care about, and it makes audiences uncomfortable to say. I can’t resist. It’s also such a big part of who I am, and took many years to be truly proud of my sexuality in all its forms.
I’m obsessed with your Seagulls Attack! (working title) story in the play. It’s the perfect example of how life and nature can erupt into chaos at any time. How is your relationship with birds nowadays?
Okay, this one I can answer directly. Not. Good. The only positive from global warming is that it will also take down the sky rats. Good riddance.
Are there any memories of Jonathan that you felt didn’t fit in with the show, due to time or theme, that you’d like to share here?
I always spend way too long choosing a memory but I have to remind myself no matter how many stories, interviews, podcasts, [and] solo shows, I could never articulate all that Jonathan is and means to me. Sooo taking the pressure off myself, the first one that came to mind was our first New Years together in 2018. I was home in Sarasota, FL (admitting you’re from Florida? Brave.) I was flying up to be with him and missed my flight! The thing is, I was at the gate. I was awake. I just had headphones on and spaced out? Truly the most dumb thing anyone has ever done. I’ve since gone on Ritalin. But for some reason, I told him the truth (and also all of you on the internet? I’ve learned nothing.) We were still getting to know each other and he was really sweet, but I could tell he was kinda like, “Who am I actually dating, and how do I get out of this???” But then I got on the next flight, made it to him by the ball dropping, we laughed it off, and fell in love*
*he made fun of me for the next 3 years for missing that flight.
What advice, if any, do you have for people who are struggling with their own grief journeys?
Ooooh I’m writing a joke right now about people asking me for advice and I’m very much not the person to ask. It’s bombing. The joke is bad but the premise holds true. I don’t know. Self-love and bagels? You’re gonna be deeply depressed, lonely, self-sabotaging, completely unproductive… and you just still have to love yourself through it all. Everything egg bagels.
Have you heard/read any memorable reactions to Sugar Daddy that have stuck with you?
People who share their own experiences with partner loss. If you're dealing with this, especially young partner loss, it's unbelievably isolating and can feel like no one in the world understands. I am so, so, so moved when others feel seen in their experience, and comfortable sharing their own journey with me.
Let’s do a speed round! What’s your hometown?
How dare you make me say it twice. Are you trying to plummet ticket sales? …Sarasota, Florida.
What do you like to do when you’re not on stage?
Play ultimate frisbee and chess and board games and meditate and read and walk around parks and go to dog parks and scream “WHOSEAGOODBOY!” until I get kicked out.
Who was at the top of your Spotify 2022 Wrapped?
Oh oh oh nooooooooooooooo. Look, I’m already regretting the Florida thing, and some things are not meant for the public.
What’s the best TV show you’ve watched in the past month?
Love is Blind. Don’t @ me.
Read any good books lately that we should check out?
I said I *like* to read, that doesn’t mean I do it! Honestly, the only books I read recently were self-help grief books and none of them particularly helpful :) also half of A Little Life, Big Fish, and Bird by Bird. We’re still figuring out the Ritalin dosage.
If you could describe your experience with Sugar Daddy so far in just one word, what would it be?
Sugar Daddy will begin performances January 11 at SoHo Playhouse. Click here for tickets and more information.