Tracy Morgan on the end of 30 Rock: "It's just a chapter in your life. It's not like my aunt or uncle died, you know?"
Photo by Clay Patrick McBride
This Saturday, funnyman Tracy Morgan will be in Minneapolis for his latest standup show, Tracy Morgan: Excuse My French. Best known as a cast member on Saturday Night Live (Brian Fellows, anyone?) and his role as Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock, Morgan says his standup material is edgy, funny, and even thought-provoking.
"I get my material from life, living, and my experience," Morgan says. "I talk about sex. I talk about racism. I talk about some of the dark things going on in the world right now. I talk about the joy in my life. I talk about family situations, and I inject my sense of humor into them."
Comedy always came naturally to Morgan, and he says he realized he was funny around the age of four. His influences include his father and the comedy greats.
"My dad was funny, and I always wanted to be like my father," Morgan says. "I also saw the greats -- Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Martin Lawrence, and Eddie Murphy -- and I said, 'I want to do that.' So I pursued my career, and here I am."
Growing up in inner city New York, Morgan acknowledges that it would have been easy for him to become a "statistic," but he says his upbringing made him into the comedian he is today.
"I don't come from a place were I have a stream running through my backyard. I come from the ghetto," Morgan says. "I come from South Brooklyn. I come from living across from Biggie Smalls and Jay-Z. I can never forget those days. You learn lessons -- the good ones and the bad ones. That's where I got my comedic instincts from. That's where I acquired all those skills: living in that condition."
That condition meant crack and heroin being sold on street corners, friends and cousins killed by drug-related violence, and losing people (most notably his father) to AIDS transferred through dirty needles.
Comedy served as a form of survival growing up, and provided Morgan with a ticket to a new world. Talking about his real-life experiences in his standup allows Morgan to connect with his audience.
"Comedy was my escape. Comedy is where I made my joy. Comedy is what allowed me to give my kids opportunities and all that. I see that. That was a gift from God to me," Morgan says. "It also helps people who come to my show to escape the everyday grind and laugh at some stuff. They understand that they're not the only ones going through it. 'Wow, Tracy Morgan, he goes through stuff too. He's human.'"
Morgan's career has taken him from his onscreen debut in Martin to Saturday Night Live to 30 Rock, which completed its series finale in January. Morgan says that it's always sad to see a TV show end, but he looks forward to what is next in his career.
"It's just a chapter in your life. It's not like my aunt or uncle died, you know? It's a TV show," Morgan says. "With 30 Rock, we did seven years of good TV that we're proud of, and you move onto the next chapter of your life and your career."
For Morgan, the next chapter includes hosting the Billboard Music Awards this month and doing standup around the world (Morgan just returned from his Australian tour). He is excited to be coming to singer Prince's home state (he is a big fan), and promises people will have a good time at Excuse My French.
"Come see my show 'cause I'm funny. I'm very funny," Morgan says. "If you think I'm funny on TV, see me live -- it's an experience. Welcome to the world of Tracy Morgan. If you want to laugh, have a good time, and go home feeling good, you should come. You might get a little education, and a piece of my world. Come check it out."
IF YOU GO:
Tracy Morgan 8 p.m. Saturday, May 4 Pantages Theatre 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis $36.50
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