Hello, Tracy Morgan

Turning tragedy inside out, the eccentric Tracy Morgan looked to comedy when he needed it most.

Tracy Morgan
With Dan Quinn and Bradley Lewis
Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium (11455-87th Ave.)
Saturday, May 21, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $40 to $115 at Ticketmaster, 18+

50 per cent from all tickets sold from Tuesday, May 17 until the show will go the Red Cross for Slave Lake disaster relief, there will also be a Red Cross van on site taking donations.

‘Woodrow the Homeless Man’ isn’t the most well-known character Tracy Morgan created, but he might just be the most revealing.  And although Morgan isn’t and never was exactly homeless, his rise from street life to superstar is astonishing.

While Woodrow lives in the sewer 10-feet below the feet of Hollywood stars, such as Britney Spears, who dropped by Saturday Night Live when Morgan was a reoccurring character on comedy’s most famous program.  The dreams and aspirations Woodrow showed in the absurd skits were seemingly Morgan’s version of social commentary during his rise to success.  Like the Eddie Murphy created character, ‘Buckwheat’, Morgan’s Woodrow represented more than a funny seven-minute segment to Morgan, it represented, in Morgan’s words, the ability to not only seize opportunity, but to take “it captive in the basement.”  Here was an opportunity to take the tragedy in his life and create laughter — a charm that got Morgan through his darkest times.

Like Woodrow, Morgan’s comedy is somewhat bizarre, but so is his story.  From the ridiculous skits he performed on SNL, to the manic antics he does today — things that often find themselves coming out of the mouth of ‘Tracy Jordan’ on 30 Rock — Morgan has reached the point of superstar.  But through it all, he was always being sincere. 

Morgan’s brand of honesty is felt only paragraphs into I Am the New Black — a memoir that captures Tracy Morgan’s life. “There are two things that will get you through life, and those things are simple and human and everyone can have them.  If they’re part of your life, you will always have a way to keep on living,” Morgan writes in the introduction.

I Am the New Black reveals the path that led him from the streets and squalor of Ghetto, U.S.A. — a particularly rough neighbourhood in Brooklyn, New York  — to international superstar status.  Morgan ran away from Brooklyn to the Bronx — from a troubled relationship with his mother, to the doorstep of his drug-addled father — only to watch as his father died of AIDS after he had kicked the heroin habit.  Not yet quite a comic in job or disposition, Morgan began dealing crack when his father passed — a profession Morgan was admittedly awful at.  The murder of his best friend was the force that drove Morgan to his life of comedy — as things were spiraling out of control, Morgan knew it was his way out of the ghetto.

Years later, here Morgan is.  He was the ‘Hustle Man’ who sold items from the hood former on mentor, Martin Lawrence’s sitcom, Martin, he was an eight-year regular of Saturday Night Live, the star of an ill-fated sitcom, The Tracy Morgan Show, a star of many popular comedy movies, and finally, reaching his highest as a main star of the Emmy-winning 30 Rock, where Morgan plays  an eccentric, unleashed movie star, serving as a loose caricature of himself.

In advance of his highly anticipated stand up performance, SEE had an opportunity to talk Tracy Morgan about I Am the New Black, his inspirations, his stand up and, of course, Osama bin Laden. 

SEE: Hi. Tracy.  Thanks for chatting. How are you? Where are you at?

Tracy Morgan: “I’m good, just loungin’.  I’m in my crib in New Jersey, my house.  I’m on the property!  The compound was raided, you know?  Same dudes that designed bin Laden’s, designed my place.  I lack confidence though.”


SEE: I was just going to ask you about Osama.

TM: “Yeah, I clipped him.  You wanna know if I clipped him?  Yeah, it was my work. The fucking dresser fell on my foot though.  Clip the guy, dresser falls on my foot.  I knew where the guy was for two years.  Got close to him, you know.” 

SEE: The Osama moment was pretty inspirational for the United States — a lot of the world, really.  Where’d you get the inspiration for I Am the New Black?

TM: “That book’s about having no excuses — it has nothing to do with race or colour.  It’s about no excuses.  When Barack became president, I was motivated to write it. The president’s black, — you don’t have no excuses.  Everybody’s gotta try now.”

SEE:  Your upbringing was tough and you write that it’s very difficult to make it through Saturday Night Live;  how did you do it?

TM:  “There are three things I seek in my life.  I seek enlightenment, I seek insight and I seek that guidance.  Whenever you are enlightened, you gain insight and it provides us with that proper guidance.  The proper guidance. You must do things in life properly.  It’s not always about good or bad, it’s about proper.  How you carry yourself in this world,is how far a man’s gonna go.  And if you carry yourself properly, then you good.  People gonna treat you proper."

SEE: What were the moments that inspired you as an individual?

TM: “There were three. The first one was when I buried my father at 19, that was really powerful.  Saddest, darkest, deepest, funkiest moment of my life.  And then I had the moment when I met my wife, Sabina.  Awesome, awesome moment for me.  And then she made it even more awesome when she gave me my first son.  Yeah … awesome stuff, man. She gave me that stability in my life.  At that moment I wanted destiny, I knew that was the place for me.  I know materialistic things ain’t always happiness. There’s nothing like destiny. Most people get afraid of it, me, I run towards it — I wanna know what it is.  It’s destiny.  Destiny.”

SEE: You sound like a life coach.  Can we expect that at the show?

TM: “I ain’t no motivational speaker, I ain’t trying to live in no van down by the river — this here is pure stand-up.  I’m going all out … we’re doing it all.”

 SEE: Well, comedy saved your life, after all.

 TM: “I was born with a sense of humour.  It’s what got me through my divorce, what got me through my father’s death, it’s what got me through everything — all the drama in my life —  my sense of humour.”

 SEE: If you are following the footsteps of Richard Pryor (who it is said walked a fine line between tragedy and comedy), there’s material in there.

TM: “All the drama in my life is turned upside down and it’s all comedy.  That’s all comedy is, tragedy turned upside down, turned inside out.”

SEE: Does I Am the New Black serve as any type of closure, then?

 TM: “I’ve been at closure.  I’m about forgiveness. I seek that.  I’m not seeking monetary things, I’m seeking forgiveness and mercy.  The book was just about me telling my story.  It wasn’t about closure, I’m 42-years old, I’ve picked up the pieces.  It was just me telling a story, my story.”



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