Bill Murray celebrates UT alumnus’s donation of comedy posters

Maria Mendez

Comedian and actor Bill Murray made a brief appearance at the Moody College of Communication on Saturday morning.

“I have no idea why I’m here,” Murray said to a laughing crowd of about 50 students, faculty and staff.

Murray helped celebrate UT alumnus Cappy McGarr’s donation of autographed comedy posters to the University during a humor-filled ceremony. The seven posters showcase past recipients of the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, including Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray, who received the award in 2016.

McGarr, who has three UT degrees, helped establish the Kennedy Center’s prize and serves as an executive producer for the award show. The prize recognizes people who impact American society through humor in honor of the 19th-century satirist and essayist Samuel Clemens, known as Mark Twain.

The posters resided in McGarr’s home for the past 20 years, but he said he and his wife decided to donate them to the Harry Ransom Center during their spring cleaning.

“We asked ourselves, ‘Who would want these?’” McGarr said. “Ultimately, we decided to not deprive UT of these priceless relics. After all, when you ponder who would be more appreciative of the autographs of Neil Simon, Julie Andrews, Carol Burnett, the first people you think of are college students born in the 2000s.”

The ceremony took place in the Belo Center for New Media in front of Moody College’s coffee shop, which is named Cappy’s Place in honor of McGarr. Jay Bernhardt, dean of the Moody College, said McGarr has been one of UT’s most faithful alumni.

McGarr previously served as the chairman of UT’s development board and suggested the creation of the School of Undergraduate Studies. McGarr also founded Moody’s sports journalism program and the McGarr Symposium, launched in the fall of 2017.

“I’ve never met an alumnus who I would describe as more Moody than Cappy McGarr, and I really mean that in the kindest possible way,” Bernhardt said.

Murray, the award-winning actor known for his roles in Saturday Night Live, Ghostbusters and Lost in Translation, joined the ceremony before attending a Saturday night screening of Wes Anderson’s film Isle of Dogs at SXSW.

“I’m very honored to be here, especially because I happened to be in town,” Murray said in his famous deadpan style of humor. “I’m sure you can find a place for these (at UT) that doesn’t block the coffee and donuts.”

The posters will be housed in the Harry Ransom Center, which is renowned for holding one of the five Gutenberg Bibles in the world and the first photograph.

“It is my honor to donate what can only be described as history’s greatest cultural artifacts … and unlike that sorry photograph, these posters are in color,” McGarr said, poking fun at the first photograph.

Corporate communications freshman Hayley Naples said she appreciated witnessing how the Harry Ransom Center gets a hold of items such as the posters.

“It was really cool to kind of be a part of that ceremony and see (the posters) first,” Naples said. “It was just a really fun ceremony. (Bill Murray) was exactly what I imagined, very lighthearted and funny.”