Who, What, Where, Now!
Michael Murphy (the funny guy) to Perform His Final Show
Photography courtesy of Tory Taglio
In 1976, the same year Steve Jobs founded Apple Inc. and Paul McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” was topping the Billboard charts, a bar in Warm Springs called Elevation 6,000 hired a young Mike Murphy as their evening entertainment. Murphy, based out of San Francisco at the time, had never been to Sun Valley before that winter; and since then, has never officially left.
Murphy said he was hired on every ski-season, year after year, and eventually decided in 1986 to move here permanently instead of living on and off between Sun Valley and the city by the bay. Since ’76, Murphy has made a name for himself as the local comedian and is even listed in the phonebook as “Michael Murphy (the funny guy).”
Despite his 34-year track record of performing around the Valley at least one night a week during the ski season, Murphy announced this year would be his last. He has been performing the past two years free of charge, saying he hoped to give something back to the community that has given him so much.
“It’s been a fun 34 years,” Murphy said. “[Retiring from the stage] feels anticlimactic this year because I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had with my show. I mean I really look forward to getting on the stage and doing it every night…This year it’s been wall-to-wall every night, and when I have a packed house like that, I just know it’s going to be fun.”
Murphy said his comedy has mellowed quite a bit over the years, but that he still likes to address topics that make people think. His show covers everything from religion and politics to local topics and family matters, such as marriage and children. Murphy’s show also includes a fair share of song, which can be attributed his original dream of performing as a professional guitar player in a band.
Murphy’s style is not brash or rude, and he said he doesn’t understand a lot of newer comedians’ humor.
“I don’t know what comedy is today. I notice a lot of profanity now, and I mean a lot, like where a whole show will be profanity. There are a couple of comedians, like a guy named Dane Cook, that I cannot for the life of me understand why people think they’re funny,” Murphy said.
And although comedy isn’t Murphy’s main career (he has been a real estate broker at McCann Daech Fenton for close to 10 years) he said he truly enjoys it and is going to miss the stage.
“I love doing what I do. I love making people laugh,” Murphy said. “I enjoy it because it’s an outlet for me. It’s kind of an alter ego. I’m not really like the person I am on-stage. I’m kind of an introvert.”
He said seeing people who looked like they are having a bad day, later walk out of his show smiling and laughing is a huge reward.
After preparing a show every winter for three decades and rehearsing before each night, Murphy said he thinks he’ll still continue to take notes and write down jokes, even if they may never be performed.
“I think it’s just natural after doing it this long,” he said.
But with a town that has relied on Murphy for its laughs since Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver hit screens, it is hard to believe the Valley will let him go with three final shows. Murphy said he’s had people tell him that they’ve already started a petition to bring him back.
“People keep asking me if this it—if this is the end—and I have to say, I really don’t know!” Murphy said.
Although Murphy seemed more focused on remembering all the good times he’s had than planning new ways to fill his free time, he said he is looking forward to having more time for his real estate work, mountain biking and gardening with his wife.
Murphy will perform his final shows at The Boiler Room in Sun Valley on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday this week. All the money raised by his final shows is being donated to the Animal Shelter, and all three shows are sold out.
Murphy was asked if he would perform his last few shows in a larger venue, but he insisted his finale be in The Boiler Room because he said it is one of his favorite venues. Murphy said it is the perfect-sized venue for his routine and has been his home for too many years to end somewhere else.
Murphy said his only hope after all these years is that he’s brought a little enjoyment to people’s lives. He said his career as Sun Valley’s funny man has certainly brought some to his.
Things to Buzz about:
Attend the 1970's themed tribute to the ski film "The Performers" at Whiskey Jacques on Thursday night. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the evening begins at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10 and includes two raffle tickets in the cost. The night will include a cheeseburger-eating contest for the fellas and a K2 t-shirt contest for the ladies. 1970s costumes are encouraged, and the best costume will receive a prize. The night will also include music from DJ Locomotive, ski movies, contests, raffles and K2 prizes.
Ski Heritage Week's Ishpeming Film Festival--Today through Friday, April 1, 2011
See the classic films of the ski world all week at the Sun Valley Opera House. All showings are free and open to the public. For a full schedule of the films, visit https://skihall.org/index.php?act=viewDoc&docId=17.