By A.D. AMOROSI
Since the 1990s, alternative comedy has had a voice in Murray Hill, the cherubic Downtown NYC drag king entertainer known to one-and-all as "Mr. Show Biz," as well as the self-proclaimed "hardest-working middle-aged man" in comedy. Though a longtime fixture of the East Village's pre-gentrified performance art/comedy scene, it's only now that Hill is seeking greater fame with a Hollywood agent and a tour with Bridget Everett, the bawdy singing comedian who admits to having Hill as a nurturing inspiration. Their tour kicks off November 4 at The Fillmore in Philadelphia.
"Murray was one of the first people to give me a slot when I moved to New York from Kansas," says Everett. "Murray was so excited for me. We became fast friends. He's legendary, so to be able to bring him on the road is amazing. It's a great time for Hill to become a big star. Anything we can do to help each other out, I'm all in."
Murray Hill is "all in" as well, as I found out during our recent conversation.
A.D. Amorosi: Certainly, you are renowned for being self-deprecating. What's eating you about yourself today?
Murray Hill: I would like to be more renowned for making people laugh – that and improv and crowd work. I'm totally old school. I do, however, tease about my love handles. And what I’m eating today is what I ate yesterday: cheeseburgers and pizza.
A.D.: You have traveled the States many times over. Outside of NYC, what city do you think GETS you the most?
Murray: I love Philly because I did so many great shows early on in my career for the Fringe Festival. Philly folk are tough but cool. San Francisco, Portland and Seattle – something magical is happening in the Northwest. Any place that offers me a comfortable environment makes for a loose and welcome show, one that takes me to the next level.
A.D.: You have been doing this for over 20 years. Who is your fan base?
Murray: Chubby chasers love me.
A.D.: This is in no way looking to label you, but, the culture at large is just beginning to accept drag and trans communities. You are an entertainer without bounds, but you are certainly an innovator and an avatar when it comes to presenting yourself. Does it get easier?
Murray: There were certainly people before me, but, yes the culture is just getting it, accepting it. But it's really a relay race I'm running, and in 2016 I'm a guy at the finish line of the culture and we're all just catching up to each other. The drag king thing is reductive, but it's a way of labeling it. It's not as if there are drag kings all over television. BUT, now, as opposed to ten years ago when television executives were afraid of me, now they are getting it.
A.D.: Because the character you play is beloved.
Murray: Yes, I hope so. Now, I have a Hollywood agent to do more film and television and such, but it has taken me that long to get there. Beyond the politics of it all, now I am on the cusp. I want to create my own vehicles – a talk show maybe, as well as acting gigs for the character. I think it's about maintaining the brand and pushing that.
A.D.: So, Bridget Everett – she loves you. What bonds the two of you? She credits you for opening all the doors for her on the NYC comedy and cabaret scene.
Murray: Before New York City had such gentrification and wealth there were a lot of misfit people – a queer performance scene – who came to the city to invent ourselves or reinvent ourselves. There was Justin Bond, Kiki & Herb – they inspired me. They brought acts together and we became a community in the 90s.
A.D.: This was during the scene's early days.
Murray: Yeah, and Bridget came into that world, places like The Fez, and she was this "odd woman out" – not exactly Broadway but with this big crystal clear voice and powerful vision. All of a sudden, she was part of the party and accepted. She stepped into this family of misfits, and from those days forward, we have been best friends.
A.D.: So what can we expect from the two of you on stage? What's the plan?
Murray: We work off a script, but, it will never be the same thing twice. It is what we don't have planned that should concern you.
For tickets for the Bridget Everett and Murray Hill show at The Fillmore in Philadelphia, PA on November 4, visit TheFillmorePhilly.com. For the rest of the tour visit BridgetEverett.net and MisterShowbiz.com
Photo: Clay Patrick McBride
Posted on Friday, November 4, 2016