dishin' it

Comedian Tim Murray dishes on his favorite witches, burly chests, and why sex ed has failed the gays

Tim Murray lives for the stage—and maybe even lives on it, considering this booked-and-busy comedian is never not performing.

Born in northern Ohio, the multi-hyphenate cut his teeth in the New York City comedy scene, where he honed his gift for crowd work and fell in love with making audiences laugh so hard they cry.

Of course, the city is also where he fell in love with a little musical called Wicked, and specifically a whip-smart green woman with a show-stopping mezzo-soprano voice named Elphaba.

As he continued to explore new avenues as a performer—theater, podcasting, comedy videos, film & TV roles—Murray could never quite shake his Elphaba obsession, leading to his one-man show, Tim Murray Is Witches, which played to sold-out audiences and rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this past summer and across the U.S. this fall.

Then, before he could catch his breath, Murray jumped right from Witches to a starring role in a revival of the Off-Broadway crowd-pleaser Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man, running in NYC now through January 2024.

Somehow, Murray still finds time to crack us up on the internet, with popular viral hits like his “Every Conversation In LA” and “Hot Gay Guys” series on TikTok. Oh, and did we mention he’s also teamed up with Trixie Mattel and fellow funnyman Michael Henry and for an upcoming sketch comedy TV show called Wish You Were Queer? We don’t know how he does it!

Amid Sex Tips opening dates, we snagged a few minutes of Murray’s time and sat him down in the hot seat for our rapid-fire Q&A series, Dishin’ It. In our hilarious conversation, the performer opens up about why he’s always related to witches, the one thing all of his biggest crushes have in common, and what he wishes someone would’ve taught him about gay sex.

Is there a piece of media—whether a movie, TV series, book, album, theater, video game, etc…—that you consider a big part of your own coming-out journey, or that has played an important role in your understanding of queerness? Why does it stand out to you?

Anyone who follows me reading this is going to be like “Tim enough” but the truth is Wicked the musical. I was so enamored with it and I think seeing this retelling of a character that might have been misunderstood is a huge reason that queer people connect with it. Plus… female belting.

I travel around with my comedy show all about witches and I am in full Elphaba drag for it because the show is all about how queer people identify with witches in pop culture. So also Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Any story about a person who had to hide their powers was like, “oh okay so that’s me. I have powers but I’ll just never tell anyone my secret of being a Vers top.” 

Soon you’ll be starring in Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man which returns Off-Broadway next month. What can you tell us about the show, and even though it’s—as the title goes—“sex tips for straight women,” what’s something queer audiences will get out of it?

The show is an absolute party with a mix of sex education and a lot of laughs. The main reason I was so excited about returning to the theatre world to do this is because there is so much crowd work in the show. I have often felt audience interaction is my secret weapon as a comedian. I have worked hard to craft my crowd work to make everyone feel like we are all hanging out in someone’s living room. That’s what I think everyone will leave the show with… this feeling that you just got to have a really fun party with your friends.

I think queer people will feel seen and excited by a queer person being the character everyone is looking to for advice. My character isn’t the sassy clipboard holding assistant who supports the straight people. The gays are running the show here.

Speaking of sex tips: what’s something you wish you were taught about gay sex before you really started “dabbling” in it yourself?

Ummmm… everything!? I wish we were given any kind of queer sex education so that I wasn’t so repressed and then running around as an adult searching for the Bait Bus to try and hook up. I especially wish I had learned more about the process of bottoming. Weirdly they don’t teach you that in Catholic school health class which is wild because it was invented by God! 

You recently wrapped up a run of your award-winning original show, Tim Murray Is Witches. Of course, behind every powerful witch is her coven, so inspired by that: Who are three women (witches, actresses, pop stars—whoever) that you think should be in your coven and why?

Idina Menzel. Duh! Neve Campbell. Double duh!! And Carmen Sandiego. Truly… WHERE IN THE WORLD is she?? We never find out. Because she’s a witch. 

Tim Murray Is Witches is, in part, borne out of your love of Wicked, which is going to be not one, but two movies soonLet’s flip that though: If you could adapt any movie into a musical, what would it be and why? Which role would you want to play?

First of all thank you for assuming I’d cast myself in it. You’re correct. I am first and foremost gay and therefor also… in need of attention.

I want to see Nightmare Before Christmas as a full Broadway musical. I am lanky so I’d love to be Jack. But also Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead, The Craft and I’d actually love to see a musical version of All About Eve. Really just anything with women. 

Who’s a fictional character you had a crush on at a younger age (or maybe still do!)? What do you remember loving about them?

He-Man and Gaston from Beauty And The Beast. I am basic and always have been which is why I gravitated toward men with burly chests.

Also I don’t know if this counts as fictional but I used to fantasize that Razor Ramon & Shawn Michaels from WWE would sandwich me between them on a jet ski.

I obviously was into the chest hair of all these characters but maybe also the pageantry? Like Gaston and the WWE guys were always doing the most! And sexuality can be… a performance! (I start doing the choreo from the musical Chicago). 

As a comedian, you’ve performed for thousands and thousands of people all over the country and beyond, but do you have any stand-up horror stories of a “gig gone wrong” that you can share?

I just finished my Witches show at the Edinburgh Fringe festival and the show is very much for queer people in their 20s-40s. It was going amazingly well because the people coming to the show were getting the references.

I then did a 3 minute spot on a comedy showcase in my full green makeup and drag sandwiched between regular stand up comedians. They didn’t say anything about witches when I entered they just introduced me as Tim Murray and this audience full of older straight British people did not know WHAT was happening. If you’ve never bombed in front of 350 elderly British people looking at you slack jawed as you prance around in a witch costume… I highly recommend. 

Who is a queer or trans chef/artist/performer/creator that you think is doing really cool work right now? Why are they someone we should all be paying attention to?

I have two that I thought of immediately: Roz Hernandez and Drew Droege. I have been doing some stand-up gigs with Roz around LA and she has been cracking me up. I am very excited for her new Hulu show.

And I have been a super-fan of Drew for years. I wrote a play with him in mind and I just saw him in Titanique The Musical off-Broadway and I truly have never laughed that hard. Also Cole Escola. I feel like all three of those people are doing comedy how they want to do it and that inspires me so much to just do whatever the f I want to do. 

You can see Tim Murray in a limited Off-Broadway run of Sex Tips For Straight Women From A Gay Man at New York City’s AMT Theatre, now through January 20.

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