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Thomas Lee Murrin (February 8, 1939 - March 12, 2012)

Thomas Lee Murrin (February 8, 1939 - March 12, 2012)

Tom Murrin, 2008. Photo by Joseph O. Holmes

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of performance artist and writer Thomas Lee Murrin who, surrounded by his wife Patricia and friends, died on March 12, 2012 of complications from cancer. He was 73.

Tom Murrin created non-traditional theater as both the Alien Comic and then later as Jack Bump and tirelessly supported generations of younger artists. Tom will be missed not only by his family and friends, but also by the greater New York performance community who celebrates Tom’s humorous, heartfelt artistry and shares his passion for non-traditional theater created freely and without restrictions.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Alien Comic Fund for the preservation of Tom’s work and the resolution of his estate. Donations should be made payable to Alien Comic Fund and sent to Alien Comic Fund, c/o PS 122, 67 West Street, Suite 315, Brooklyn, NY 11222.

An informal wake will take place on Sunday, March 18 from 5-7pm in the garden of St. Marks Church in-the-Bowery. A larger memorial is planned around the full moon of May or June. Please visit this Facebook page for more details.

Tom Murrin arrived in New York in the mid 1960s and became a member of the first generation of La MaMa playwrights, working with John Vaccaro among other influential directors. In the 1970s, Tom moved to Seattle and performed with Alex “Soul Dancer” Schlissel’s Para-Troupe with Johanna Went, creating happenings and street performances. Following Para-Troupe, Tom and Johanna began to travel and to perform wherever they could, often using found objects as props. After performing street theater around the world, Tom returned to New York in 1978 and took up residence at director Bill Hart’s Razor Gallery. Under the guidance of famed rock manager Jane Friedman (Patti Smith, Lenny Kaye, John Cale of the Velvet Underground), Tom began to perform under the name Alien Comic, opening for acclaimed punk bands in rock clubs such as CBGBs, Irving Plaza and Max's Kansas City.

In the mid 1980s, Tom created, performed, and curated a series of variety nights at Performance Space 122, called The Full Moon Show. Artists who performed in these shows include DANCENOISE, Jo Andres, Mimi Goese, Steve Buscemi (performing with Mark Boone Junior as "Steve and Mark"), David Cale, Ethyl Eichelberger, The Blue Man Group, John Kelly, and Karen Finley.

Tom wrote for Paper Magazine covering theater and performance for 16 years, and served on PS 122’s Avant-Garde-Arama curating committee since its inception nearly 25 years ago, helping to introduce hundreds of new artists to the space. Under the direction of head curator Salley May, Tom performed in introductions to nearly 30 Avant-Garde-Arama evenings at PS122.

His plays “Sportfuckers” and “Butt Crack Bingo” were produced at Theater for the New City and La MaMa and directed by David Levine. In 2010 he wrote and performed “The Talking Show; The Magical Ridiculous Journey of Alien Comic,” directed by Lucy Sexton. It was presented at PS 122 in New York and The Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles.

In 2008, Tom was honored by Performance Space 122 at their annual Spring Gala. He received a plaque with the following quote:

“For wildly imaginative groundbreaking performance work that never hesitated to serve the creative impulse, the desire to entertain, and the belief that new forms of theatre were possible. For invaluable contributions to Performance Space 122 and the entire downtown performing community that, through a history of selfless generosity, helped make New York a place where continuing generations of artists can imagine and invent. Performance Space 122 is proud to honor Tom Murrin aka Alien Comic.”

Please visit to learn more about Tom and his great art.

Tom Murrin performing on the streets, in India in the 1970s. Courtesy Tom Murrin archive.

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