MMA Crossfire Conversations – Comedian Tyler Morrison prepares to roast Ron Jeremy
It’s been onwards and upwards for 30-year-old Canadian comedian Tyler Morrison.
A relative newcomer to the comedy game, he’s been featured at the Boston Comedy Festival, NXNE and CBC’s The Debaters.
A native of Bracebridge, Ontario, he won the 2011 Dark Comedy Festival and Best New Stand Up at Toronto’s Hogtown Comedy Festival.
In MMA, we would call him a prospect, a rising star.
Turns out, he’s an MMA fan too, correctly predicting the UFC 179 main event winner.
He’s set to roast adult male film star Ron Jeremy tomorrow at Toronto’s Royal Cinema, joining Dustin Diamond, Lisa Ann and other handpicked comedians.
Listen to 102.1 FM The Edge tomorrow at 11AM ET to hear Tyler on air with Adam Ricard.
You can also catch him at the H2O Lounge Friday November 14th as part of the Dark Comedy Festival Tour.
Welcome back to The Crossfire.
MMA CROSSFIRE CONVERSATIONS – COMEDIAN TYLER MORRISON
MMA Crossfire: Welcome to the Crossfire, Tyler. Tell us about the roast tomorrow and the idea behind selecting Ron.
Tyler Morrison: I’m the headwriter for the event, but I know the thought process behind selecting him was that there’s a lot of cannon fodder to make fun of Ron Jeremy with. He’s got the reputation of the most famous male porn star, but he also has that mainstream likability. It lends itself to a lot of the humour that roasts are all about. He’s definitely a character. There’s a cartoon element to it, which is great for the roast and the style of jokes.
MMA Crossfire: Right. I understand there will be others there joining in on the roast.
Tyler Morrison: There’s a lot of really good comedians and pretty funny celebrities. Dustin Diamond, he does standup comedy too, so it’s kind of a perfect fit. He has the child star track record, and everybody knows Screetch. He’s never really been on any of the big celebrity roasts before, so this is a good opportunity to see him get skewered a little bit.
MMA Crossfire: Is this going to be televised?
Tyler Morrison: It’s a four camera shoot i believe, for TooFarTV. It’s a online digital download that people can buy afterwards. They’re doing it like a comedy special.
MMA Crossfire: That must be very exciting.
Tyler Morrison: It is so exciting. For me to be a part of it is really cool. I’m one of the few Canadians on the show. John Moses would be the other; he’s a Toronto guy. So for us to be able to do it… in the city that we started comedy with all these big names and these type of events take on a circus-like quality so it’s always an extra level of excitement surrounding the celebrity roast.
MMA Crossfire: Looking at your own profile, you are one of Canada’s rising stars, doing this and that. It seems like they hunted you down for this.
Tyler Morrison: It’s interesting. The Dark Comedy Festival, I think they started in 2011, and the had a contest with 40 to 50 comedians all over Canada and the US and I won the contest for the newer comedians…
MMA Crossfire: Yeah.
Tyler Morrison: So I ended up winning it and then they brought me back in and I’ve kind of become a staple of the festival over the last few years. It’s amazing. They put me on tour with some of the bigger comedians like Gilbert Godfried and the first roast that I did as part for the DarkFest was for Ed the Sock.
So I was writing a bunch of material for John Tory who was on the roast, and the other guests on the roasts who were not standups. It went really well at the Ed the Sock event; I got a standing ovation during my set. That was so exciting to have that happen. The next time, they did a thing with The Iron Sheik in Toronto which was last year. I was the new face on that roast and had a pretty good showing. They did it in Hamilton the next night; I went from opening on the first night, to putting me in the closing spot on the second night. It was a nice feather in my cap.
MMA Crossfire: We call that the main event in mixed martial arts.
Tyler Morrison: Yeah, absolutely. They moved me to the top card (Laughs).
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs). It’s kind of hard to roast The Iron Sheik, isn’t it?
Tyler Morrison: Oh, you mean because he might put you in the Camel Clutch? (Laughs)
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs)
Tyler Morrison: They put a guy in the Clutch last year on the ropes in Hamilton. He made a fan tap out. It was pretty funny…
MMA Crossfire: He’s pretty good verbally too.
Tyler Morrison: He’s something else. He’s got the experience of being the most hated villain in the WWE for so many years. That doesn’t go away, no matter how old you are.
MMA Crossfire: You seem to be making an impression wherever you go. What is it like writing material for these people?
Tyler Morrison: I think it’s so much fun because I’m a specific persona on stage and how I present, but when you’re looking at someone like Lisa Ann or for celebrities, you want it to take on their own voice. This is more behind-the-curtains stuff, but you do want it to sound like them; it can’t be like them delivering you.
They’ll be a joke that if I did it, it wouldn’t necessarily get a laugh, but if Dustin Diamond did it, it would kill. It’s thinking about the perspective of A) The comedian or celebrity that you’re writing for and B) how does the audience perceive them. You can get a good idea on how the audience perceives them just based on how you are writing about them. If I’m writing my joke, I’ll go, ‘OK this is what the audience is going to think about this.’ I would take that into consideration; How are they perceived by the audience and then have them play off of that.
MMA Crossfire: You have to know you’re writing for.
Tyler Morrison: Exactly. Always do my homework.
MMA Crossfire: Absolutely. You don’t want somebody sounding like Joan Rivers when they’re not.
Tyler Morrison: Especially Joan Rivers when she’s too old.
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs).
Tyler Morrison: She was amazing though.
MMA Crossfire: Definitely amazing. It was good that you talked about the writing process. Let’s say someone like David Letterman calls you and wants some material. How long does it take for you to turn things around?
Tyler Morrison: Pretty fast. It depends on how fast they need it. I can hammer out a lot of material in a short period of time. If you follow me on Twitter, you can see that I’m writing jokes in real time. I don’t have set scheduled tweets. I can go on any subject that someone gives to me I can come up with material at a rapid pace.
If I had one day, I can come up with with a very tight set, monologue or whatever that was needed. Same thing with roasts. For example The Iron Sheik roast last year in Toronto, I had about five months to prepare for that one. But then I decided the next night in Hamilton I wanted to do all different material, so I wrote all my stuff that day. And it did just as well.
Once I’m in the zone, I can write a fairly solid set that would be comparable to anyone that’s on TV right now doing that. I can do that in about a day.
MMA Crossfire: Amazing.
Tyler Morrison: For me, it’s all about making a mark in the industry. I’m kind of coming out of nowhere. I live in Muskoka, I’m not in Toronto. I’m not part of any scene; I don’t do a lot of comedy clubs. I do all my own stuff; I produce a lot of my own shows and I’ve been building by base on my own. The only way for people to find out about me is to be prolific. Build the best body of work and make an impression where you go.
MMA Crossfire: You have a variety of work.
Tyler Morrison: Oh yeah. In Canada, the Canadian comedy landscape i find to survive you have to be versatile. To make money, you have to work clean.
There’s not a huge market for dirty comedy. I just think it hasn’t been built up. There’s only so many avenues, but there’s an appetite for that kind of comedy and we see it with our Dark Comedy tour. Last year, we were mainly doing bars and now we’re stepping up into theatres and it’s just growing because we’re getting out to the people that want to see this. I went to the Humber Comedy program and did a lot of acting, live sketch and things like that…
MMA Crossfire: Humber?
Tyler Morrison: Yeah, they have a comedy program. It was a great program for me because it had a vacuum of creative people. To this day, I work with many of them still. We had a strong year of comedians in our crop. They’ve been very supportive of my career. You get to learn a lot about the business side when you go there, which I found helpful. A lot of comics when they start out, are not very business savvy.
MMA Crossfire: Comedy is a very serious, I hear.
Tyler Morrison: For some people, it is. (Laughs)
MMA Crossfire: If you want to eat, like you said.
Tyler Morrison: Yes, if you want to make it up the ladder, you have to do all those little things on the backend.
MMA Crossfire: Right. Starting out, you usually can’t afford a manager and people around you…
Tyler Morrison: Exactly. I can’t wait till I have an entourage man. (Laughs)
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs)
Tyler Morrison: I need to need to be coming down to the ring like GSP with some French rap.
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs) That would be nice, or like the Gracie Train.
Tyler Morrison: (Laughs) On a side note, have you noticed that you can pick the winner of a MMA fight by the song they’re come down to?
MMA Crossfire: I haven’t noticed that.
Tyler Morrison: I don’t know. If a guy’s coming out to something that’s not very good. Rich Franklin he came down to ACDC’s For Those of Us who Like to Rock (We Salute You). I was at a party and everyone thought Franklin was dead. I heard that song and said. ‘Franklin’s got him.’
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs). You sound like a MMA fan.
Tyler Morrison: Definitely. I watch as much as I can. It’s crazy how big it got. To keep up with all of it is a lot for me. Carlos Condit is my favourite fighter. If Carlos Condit’s fighting, I’m trying to get a ticket or watch online. Ronda Rousey has invigorated the sport.
MMA Crossfire: Yes, she has. I’m trying to think of some funny guys in MMA.
Tyler Morrison: Chael Sonnen.
MMA Crossfire: Of course. Although, Conor McGregor is really turning heads right now.
Tyler Morrision: Oh yeah. He said: I don’t only call the knockout, I call the round. I can appreciate that kind of trash talk.
But fuck me! IT PAYS TO BE BAD. pic.twitter.com/4sGAzMwqSL
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) November 1, 2014
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s Conor. OK, give me three realities of being a comedian.
Tyler Morrision: #1, it doesn’t come overnight. A lot of guys, when you see them get popular, it’s usually a lot of years behind that building up to that one wave of momentum. Russell Peters, he’s been doing comedy for twenty years. Guys like Bill Burr, Louie CK. They’ve been doing it for so long, but timing is everything. That’s my #1.
#2, it comes down to body of work they leave behind. Some guys might get the push early for whatever reason in their career, but what are you going to do with that shot? Do you have a body of work that you’re happy with or are you just doing it for the money?
#3 Have fun. If you’re not having fun, get out of it because you’re not always going to be fun. You have to figure out ways to have fun with it. It is a business, but if you’re not into it, people can tell onstage. You have to be able to lighten up and have a good time. That’s what people are relying on you to bring them.
MMA Crossfire: Thanks for your time today Tyler. What can we expect from you at the roast tomorrow?
Tyler Morrison: You’re going to see the most hard-hitting roast material that I can bring. I’ve been preparing for this opportunity for a long time. This is a great chance for me to get on the radar. I’ll be taking no prisoners. Anyone on the roast, they don’t have a prayer. (Laughs).
MMA Crossfire: What about the front row?
Tyler Morrison: On a roast, they usually don’t make fun of the general audience, but if there are celebrities in the front, you might want to bring a helmet (Laughs) because they get teed up pretty good. But the general audience, don’t be afraid to sit in the front. It’s the best seat in the house; It’s going to be so much fun.
Ron Jeremy’s the first three rows. That’s the money shot tickets they call it. (Laughs).
MMA Crossfire: (Laughs). Thanks again Tyler and all the best.
Tyler Morrison: I really appreciate you talking with me like this Kenai. This is awesome.
Watch Tyler Morrison roast Ron Jeremy Wednesday, November 5th at Toronto’s Royal Cinema, then catch him at the H2O Lounge in Owen Sound, Friday November 14th.