• Golden Globe Awards

Oral History: Bill Murray on Comedy

Bill Murray plays a father in the comedy On the Rocks directed by Sofia Coppola.  In 1998 he told the journalists of the Hollywood Foreign Press how he gave up on his premed studies to join his older brother Brian at Second City’s improvisation comedy troupe in Chicago.
“Most of the students I was studying with were fighting about whether to go into cardiology or radiology, because they couldn’t figure out which one was going to make more money, and that to me was a little disturbing, because I had a vision of myself as a Dr. Thomas Dooley, but I wasn’t a good student at that time anyway, I had no affinity for it. To me being at Second City was the hardest job, but those theater shows work and will train people.”
“It wasn’t like my mother was dying for me to be a doctor, she was much more interested in each of her children having a professional trade, she wanted to have a dentist, a plumber, a carpenter, a tow truck driver, an agent, not to brag about it, but to have most of the professions covered, so she could have all those things fixed around the house. She had nine kids so that was more than enough for most of the household tasks.”
“And I am not number one, maybe number two, it’s really a photo finish, because I’ve got a sister who’s a nun and hasn’t paid for a meal in thirty-five years, she hasn’t picked up a check in her life. And she doesn’t have a line on her face, she doesn’t have a care in the world, everything is paid for, but I can behave any way I want because I got her praying for me every single night.”
“Doing comedy is different than doing drama, there are a lot of people that can make you cry but there aren’t many that can make you laugh. Comedy is harder and not everybody can do it. There are people that can be funny in movies and are not funny in life, so there’s a lot of mystery to it.”
“My kids think I’m funny, but that’s what I do for a living, if I were a carpenter, they’d think I’m a good carpenter, and I do enjoy making them laugh. I use laughter all the time to get them off difficult situations, without completely embarrassing them and humiliating them, then you get results. My dad was a funny person, but he had too many kids, so he never had enough time to get a laugh out of all of them.”
“At home I am not funny all the time, if I were, I would be sick and imbalanced, and I think you have to be in balance in your life. It’s nice to be able to find the humor in something, but you don’t always have to cash it in. I enjoy making people laugh, but I’d much rather have somebody else make me laugh, like Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Eddie Murphy, Jerry Lewis, Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, W.C. Fields, the Marx Brothers.”