[30 June 2008]
Detroit Free Press (MCT)
Tracy Morgan is not Tracy Jordan, the character he plays on NBC’s “30 Rock.”
But the comedian does have a few things in common with his wild and crazy alter-ego on the Emmy-winning sitcom.
Morgan, a “Saturday Night Live” alumnus, and Jordan both seem funny, outspoken and unpredictable.
But Morgan wants to make it clear Jordan is just a guy he plays - and “30 Rock” is just one aspect of his career.
“Are we ever going to talk about my stand-up?” he says, sounding as passionate as Tracy Jordan as he speaks by phone from South Carolina, where he’s filming “Nailed,” a political comedy with Jessica Biel, Jake Gyllenhaal and director David O. Russell.
Morgan describes stand-up as his most personal art form.
“When I do stand-up ... I get to do whatever I want to do. There’s no boundaries. You’ll get to know me,” he says. “You’ll leave with a piece of me.”
Q: Do people think you’re as crazy as Tracy Jordan?
A: I couldn’t tell you what people think. I lost that ability a long time ago. If you’re asking me am I anything like him, I would say no.
A: We share some characteristics, but that’s human. ... Tracy Jordan is a character that Tracy Morgan plays and that’s it. Outside of show business, I live a normal life.
Q: Do you have a favorite thing your character has done on the show?
A: The very first episode, I ran down the street in New York in my underwear and that’s fun.
Q: What is Tina Fey like as a boss?
A: She’s really cool. She’s not bossy at all. She’s just creative.
Q: What should we expect when we see you onstage?
A: You’re going to see Tracy Morgan, who’s much more interesting than Tracy Jordan. Tracy Jordan is just a figment of my imagination, a figment of Tina’s imagination. You ain’t seen nothing yet until you see Tracy Morgan.
Q: What are we going to find out about you from your act? Are you going to get real personal?
A: Stand-up is really personal. It’s not like somebody else is writing the script and you have to do what they write. Stand-up is mine. It’s a part of me. Everything I talk about in stand-up is my experiences as an American, as a father, as a husband, as a black man, as a human being. You don’t get to experience that on “30 Rock” in a half-hour. ... That’s why I love doing stand-up and I would never give it up.
Q: With the news that George Carlin passed away, are there comics who ...
A: You know what? I didn’t even know George Carlin passed away. ... I’m so in a bubble here filming this movie. I’m on the set and I’m back in the hotel room.
Q: Was Carlin one of your favorites?
A: George Carlin is an influence on a generation. He made me want to do comedy. Amongst Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy, he’s one of the masters. I’m so sad to hear that. Young stand-ups, we ought to do comedy in his spirit, in Richard Pryor’s spirit, in Jackie Gleason’s spirit, in Lucille Ball’s spirit, because they did it with the spirit.
Q: Is your stand-up primarily adult-oriented?
A: Absolutely. ... I don’t like doing stand-up for little kids. It’s not geared for that. I like to do stand-up for people who live real life. I don’t really take the college tours and all that. Those are young people and I’m quite sure they’re mature enough to understand, but they haven’t seen or lived real life yet. I touch on sex in my stand-up and it’s funny, because when I talk about sex from an adult point of view, people cringe. But if I talk about war or killing, people laugh. So it’s sick. It’s really demented.
Q: Do you think people know how passionate you are about certain things?
A: No, because I don’t show them that. They’ve got to come see me perform. I talk about it and I’m not afraid to move away from funny. I’m not afraid of that. I can make people laugh at the drop of a dime. God’s given me that ability. But I’ve also got to say something. I’ve got to show life as I see it.