Murderfist’s mix of balls-to-the-walls energy and in-your-face premises set them apart from your average sketch comedy group. The New York-based comedy team has been tearing up the stage since their arrival in NYC back in 2006. To give you an idea of what Murderfist is all about, here is their list of personal interests on their Facebook fan page:
“Weed, Horse, Crank, Junk, Blow, Cookies, Floosies, Plates all made messy with food, Gettin' it, Givin' it, Bungie Jumping, Eating, Making Deviled Leggs, Visiting Family, Getting Tickets for the Mothership, Munchin on Grindage, Learning Karate”
Get the picture?
Murderfist is set to destroy the stage twice during the New York Comedy Festival this year. We had a chance to sit down with Murderfist member Henry Zebrowski and talk about M’Fist’s beginings, sketches they will never do again and the one guy who ever complained about a Murderfist show.
Did you grow up in a conservative house?
Yeah, my parents wouldn’t let me watch SNL growing up. Dad was a cop, mom was a house mom. Conservative house but still a bit crazy. On the side my dad would show me Airplane and super dirty standup. One memory they had with me as a kid was that when they would watch Sam Kinison specials, whenever he would scream I would laugh as a baby. They didn’t know I would key into that.
So then what was “high school Henry” like? Are you the same now as you were then?
No, I was very smiley and happy, not that I’m not happy now. Like, I didn't touch anything back then. Then I became 18, booze and weed changed me, for the better I think in the end. 18 was a crazy time.
You graduated high school, went to college and met the guys of Murderfist.
As a group we have been together for 10 years since '03. We were all acting students at Florida State University. We basically just sat, smoked weed and wrote sketch all those years. We would get together and write sketch in the only gay bar in Tallahassee. The cool thing is that we met when we were 19 yet we still do it into our 30s.
And then after that you guys moved to New York?
Yeah, we moved here in 2006. We all did not know that each of us had the same dream of going to New York to do comedy. We were all sitting around during senior year and someone just said “Guess we are going to New York,” and we all said “Yup.”
How did you guys fit into the culture here?
We have always been the gross horrible cousin of all other sketch groups. Groups were a lot slicker and tighter, but we were doing stuff that was sloppy — highly rehearsed but purposely sloppy. We came in and looked like monkeys, which I am fine with.
The first sketch I ever saw of you guys was something where a boy sneaks into a museum late at night and gets molested by a wax figure of Benjamin Franklin.
Oh yeah, that was our kids show. For a while we did themed shows, that show was a show that featured comedy and kids. And we thought that idea would be fun.
Can you describe your guys’ brand of comedy?
We don’t do much pop culture. There is a place for pop culture, but I feel like people don’t do stuff that is their own voice. We were all theater trained so all of our stuff is very real and visceral. We don’t have a thin veneer, we do really committed stuff. We also try as much as possible to bring a rock 'n' roll energy to the show. All of our biggest idols were hardcore comedians like the beginning cast of SNL and early '90s SNL. Honestly, our musical influences that we love we’ve stolen so much stagecraft from, like from The Flaming Lips and The Stooges. It's a high-energy, no-holds-barred show and the point is to just make you laugh. Our philosophy about any of our sketches has always been to just make ourselves laugh in the room. Whether it is by saying the words “pee pee poo poo” or a boy getting molested in a museum by Ben Franklin. We aren't concerned about structure — just the funniest thing that can happen next.
What is your favorite Murderfist sketch?
Our sketch that made us who we were now was called “Funky Butter” (shown in the video below). I was the Funky Butter Genie who broke into a guy’s house and tries to sell the family some product called Funky Butter. You don’t know what Funky Butter actually is, but the sketch is a spoof of a '50s commercial. You don’t know if I’m actually a genie or some nut who just broke into someone’s house. (Writer’s note: At this point he did the genie from "Funky Butter." It involved the phrase “Is you deaf muthaf**ka? Ima sell some Funky Butta.”)
Is there a dirtiest sketch that you guys do or sketch that you guys will never do again?
We have some sketches that we will never do again. There was a sketch that Ed and I wrote called “Baby Pussy.” It’s a low-energy stupid sketch that is just heinous. We did it one time and it halfway worked, but my girlfriend wouldn’t kiss me after. She was very upset.
There was another sketch we won’t do anymore that was our flagship sketch at one point. I play the Tooth Fairy who visits a boy whose father is a Vietnam vet. I then run into the Boogieman who it turns out I have a previous relationship with. The sketch ends with him viscerally f**king me in the ass. He pulls my pants down and humps me for three minutes while the song from Ghost plays (“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers). Its very animalistic and weird. We don’t do that anymore.
So you guys do some dirty and alternative shows...
We get a lot of stuff for being dirty, but what we do is dark. It isn’t dirty as much as it is just going all the way. If there is going to be a dildo in a sketch you might as well suck on it. You are a performer, do your performer job and play it 110 percent. If the sketch is full dirty, do it dirty. If it is not, do it super weird.
Have you guys ever gotten complaints?
One of my favorite complaints that I take as a compliment is that last year we did Sketchfest NYC. We had a full-packed house and it was a great show. One of my friends watched a couple leave during the show and the boyfriend was apologizing to his girlfriend saying “I’m sorry, I’m sorry that I brought you here. I did not know that boundaries would be pushed!”
Switching gears, is this your first time performing at the New York City Comedy Festival?
No, This is our third time performing at the festival and third time at Best Of Sketch NYC. We are doing a tight “best of” show with a bunch of our best stuff. Murderfist “proper” shows are a bit more experimental with our new stuff, this will be a bit tighter. We are performing twice this year at the festival. We are doing the Best of NYC Sketch show at UCB chelsea this Wednesday at 8 p.m. tickets available on UCBtheater.com. Then on Sunday at the Creek and Cave at 8 p.m. we are doing Froduce.
So what is next for Murderfist?
We have a show on MyDamnChannel coming up called “Huffin’ it with Biff and Stu”. It's about two guys, Biff and Stu, huffing glue and then hosting a talkshow in their brains. It's a little scary but really funny. Also, we’ve been working on a screenplay for years now that we want to finish up. Afters Ten years of work you look back at all the ideas that we came out and realize we can do soo much with all of this stuff. Our goals are to get this webseries going, get more web content out there, continue pushing boundaries and keep on getting funnier.
Last question, Romney or Obama?
We all love sci fi, Romney believes we get a planet when you die. He has secret underwear. I vote Barack Obama.
But you get your own planet when you die...
I know, but i’ll never get into the club. They will never have me, I can’t convert to Mormon!
Eitan Levine is a New York City based comic. Follow him on Twitter at @Eitanthegoalie .