UPDATE: Since this interview was published Tracy Morgan’s Warner Theatre show has been cancelled.
We interviewed Tracy Morgan on the afternoon of Friday, June 6 to promote his, as of this writing, still scheduled Thursday, June 19 show. Around 1 a.m. Saturday, June 7, Morgan and others were in a car accident with a Walmart tractor trailer. He is currently in critical condition. Morgan’s publicist has said that Tracy is responsive and showing signs of improvement.
Since the show isn’t cancelled, we’re hoping someone from the Morgan team knows something we don’t. It wouldn’t be a complete shock if Tracy Morgan still took the stage in June. Hopefully his openers will also recover and be on stage soon.
How are you, sir?
I’m chillin, what’s going on?
Not much – you’re in New York, I’m assuming?
I’m in a house in New Jersey.
Oh, you’re in Jersey? All right. What suburb are you living in? I’m not asking for specific addresses here, but like, you’re living in the suburbs now. How is that?
How’s living in the suburbs? My friends got me in here. It was scary. I’m from the projects and they said they should move me out of the streets to the suburbs.
I enjoyed the new Comedy Central special.
Did you get any flak for referring to breasts as things other than breasts? For example, on the track “Fighting,” you say “tater tot.”
No, I didn’t refer to the breast as a tater tot. I referred to the nipple.
I apologize. Yes. The nipple.
I didn’t get any flak. I didn’t get any flak, ‘cause it only offended the people who aren’t into comedy.
I am into comedy. I enjoyed it quite a bit. To me it wasn’t dirty. You just used language that is not in the –
No, that’s not dirty. People want to label something, but it’s not dirty. Everything related to sex is dirty? Why, because I’m honest? That’s how we help out here. Nobody ever gave me any flak about anything. Why would they give me flak about saying tater tot? I don’t know.
I don’t think it’s offensive, but I’m just wondering how you might respond to people who take offense to that.
I don’t even think about them. I don’t care about them. They shouldn’t be watching.
How long did it take you to get to the point where you just don’t care what other people think?
I never cared.
I don’t care. Nah, I don’t. I do comedy.
I know that.
And I’m not mean spirited. I know people are super-sensitive about a lot of things. And I do stand-up. I’m sorry I can’t be squeaky-clean like other comedians. But that’s not where I’m from. I’m from the projects in Brooklyn. I talk about my life.
And you really haven’t changed that approach since you’ve started. Like, now you’re doing theater. It’s really no different—
And why would I?
I’m not saying you should! I am not saying you should—
I hope not.
How do you pick your openers for your tours?
Well, I’m known them from the beginning. And I am comfortable with them, and their comedy compliments mine. And they make me better. I have a lot of different openers all the time but I have my two openers, Ardie Fuqua and Harris Stanton and they’re polished and they’re really good. I go mainly by energies. You know, cause if I can get along with someone alone, then we can work.
We bonded. I need to tolerate you.
So it’s more important to get along as people offstage than whatever they’re going to do onstage?
Yeah, yeah, we have to get along.
How do you work on material? Do you go to the Cellar and work on material? Do you kind of have to do just do it onstage, in the large theater?
I live it. Listen, I lived it. I lived it. I’m living it every day. I’m not trying to be funny. I’m not — let me answer your question.
I’m not turning it on and off. This is me, my personality. It’s part of my spirit and my soul. And if I tell a joke to you in an elevator, and you laugh at it, it worked.
So would you write that down, or would you just remember that it worked?
I’ll remember it.
Okay. How long does it take you—
I’ll remember it!
You’re a funny human being, no one’s debating that, but you have these turns of phrase that are pretty different that I’d never heard before that help you stand out. For example, on the album, when you’re referring to oral sex you say “I eat until I burp.” I had never heard that before. That’s extremely funny.
[laughs] Isn’t that awesome? [laughs]
How did you come up with “I eat until I burp?”
You know, just rolling up in the neighborhood I came up with it. The people that made a contribution to the stand-up: my daddy, my uncle, all the older people in the community, my aunt, oh yeah, man, they all contributed to my humor! ‘Cause growing up in poverty in the ghetto, we didn’t have too many things to entertain us. We had music, which was Marvin Gaye. We had Richard Pryor, which was comedy. And we had sex. So that’s all everybody ever talked about. It’s not promiscuous or risqué, it’s just what I came from. I had – listen, I had sex every day not cause of attraction. Just so I could feel like a man. Just cause of the rejection of the world cause of my skin color. So that’s just where I’m coming from. You know?
I appreciate that people understand where I’m coming from. Those are my people. Those are the ones where I feel the most alive, the people – no matter what color you are! You know where I’m coming from, can you dig it? Yeah, dawg! You know what I’m saying? That’s a whole lot of sex. But we have fairy tales now. We are getting comfortable now. Don’t talk about oral sex! Cause you don’t like the way it makes you feel! It makes us feel uncomfortable! Well, people are having oral sex! We like that in this country, man! Oh, don’t talk about this! Don’t talk about that! Cause we don’t like the way it makes us feel! It makes us feel uncomfortable now! Don’t make no movies about World War II! Because we don’t like the way it is, and it makes us feel uncomfortable! Well, it happened! And we cannot reject that! I just find the humor in everything – that’s what makes me a comedian.
That’s what makes us comedians! Could we have a TV show like Archie Bunker? He was controversial to me! Do we have a TV show like The Jeffersons on today? No! People are too sensitive! They only want things that are going to make them feel good!
Don’t talk about the ghetto! Cause we don’t like the way it makes us feel! BUT IT’S THERE! You can’t forget that. You can’t forget that, hey, dude? Crack was here! AIDS was here! There’s something that’s lost here if you don’t want to talk about that.
We don’t want to talk about the people we lost there. White or black. I was there, man!
Who are some of the—
My generation is gone. My generation is gone.
Why do you say that?
My generation is gone. Crack and AIDS alone! My generation is gone.
Who are some of the people from your generation that you think this generation should know about that have maybe been overlooked?
Oh, man – grandmas. Everybody’s grandmas who was affected – cause what affects one of us affects all of us. I don’t care who you are or what part of your life you’re in – you know someone who’s either smoking crack or selling crack, I don’t care if you’re Ronald Reagan. They’re selling that shit right outside the White House!
When you come to D.C., will you be doing anything different because you’re in D.C., or does it matter? Are you just going to do whatever you want?
No. I’ve done me from the cradle to the grave.
That’s been perfectly clear, and I think people will appreciate you for that and I thank you for that. Who are some of the people who are up and coming that you are enjoying, comedically, lately? I know that Hannibal Buress opened for you a bunch. Have you heard Hannibal’s new track about you?
No, I haven’t.
Yeah, but I haven’t heard it.
Focus on me, dude.
I know, I know! I understand. I’m focusing on you!
What’s one thing you hope people know about you when they’re going to see a stand-up show of yours? You’re different than the characters you’ve played for a lot of years, but this is a hundred percent you. What should they know going in?
People should know where I’m coming from from a stand-up perspective. I’m coming from my perspective. I’m talking about my life and how I see it, and I’m talking about – I’m making light of my life. That’s the characters on the show. You’re coming to see Tracy Morgan and not some of the characters I’ve played on TV. So Tracy Morgan, his life is way more interesting than Tracy Jordan.
I would agree.
And I hope they see it with their heart and not their eyes. And I hope they understand that my heart is onstage. I say it in the spirit of comedy. I say it in the spirit of Richard Pryor, and Lenny Bruce, and Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball. So in the spirit of comedy, and in the spirit of the comedy gods, I’m good. People should not take things so personal, if I’m talking about things that happened in my life – if I’m making fun of my life.
Well, thank you –
Thank you. Thank you kindly. Thank you for having me.