20 (PLUS) QUESTIONS WITH TRACY MORGAN
This is an interview I did with future 30 Rock star Tracy Morgan in 2003. An edited version appeared in fhm magazine in 2004.
How long did it take you to come up with the title for The Tracy Morgan show, your new series on NBC?
Lorne Michaels came up with that title. I thought it was brilliant.
What other titles were batted around?
We were thinking about My Life. That was my idea. Then Lorne said, hey, let’s name it the Tracy Morgan show, and I thought that was brilliant.
You thought that was pretty good?
It's The Tracy Morgan Show, but your character's name is Tracy Mitchell. Doesn't the network have people that are supposed to catch mistakes like that?
That’s not a mistake.
No? What happened?
That’s the way the show is. It wasn’t a mistake. You look for Tracy Morgan and the character’s name is Tracy but his last name is Mitchell.
Were you bummed out they didn’t name the character Tracy Morgan?
No. I didn’t want to play Tracy Morgan. Tracy Morgan and Tracy Mitchell are two different characters. That’s a good thing.
Do you think people might get confused?
I don’t think so. Not if they have any brain cells. The average person won’t be confused by it. They’ll know the difference.
You've got a girls name. How many times did that get you an ass beating as a kid?
Never because I don’t even look like I tolerate ass beatings. I think the name Tracy is not just a girl’s name, it’s a unisex name. My dad gave me because he had a friend who was killed in Vietnam and he named me after his friend. I think Tracy Morgan is a unique name.
Definitely. Ever been in jail?
Have I ever been to jail? I don’t know what that has to do with show business. Why would you ask me that?
They like guys with girls names in there. . .
No man. I’m not answering that question dude. I’ve never been to prison at all. I’ve never been to prison at all and no man has ever approached me like that.
You finally got your own sitcom, and you play the owner of a small auto repair shop. Why didn't you go big and make yourself the owner of something cooler, like say, the New York Yankees?
I wanted to portray the real heroes in the world, the people that I grew up with around me who had their own little garage shops and cab stations. They were the pillars of my community when I was growing up and I wanted to pay homage to that.
What other people in the neighborhood did you look up to?
The cats who went to school, the cats who went to college. I was an athletic-type person.
Both of my uncles played college football and one owned a garage and one owned a plumbing service. That’s what I grew up with. My father was in a band. That’s what I grew up with. That’s all.
What experience do you have under the hood?
I don’t have any experience. I don’t know the first thing about a car. I’m an entertainer. But I can tell you what it’s like to be onstage in front of 5,000 people, 22,000 people. I can tell you that.
What kind of car problems have you run into when you’re on the road doing standup?
One time my family was in the car and I was on my way to Maryland to do a show and my car broke down right in the snow.
What did you do?
I did what anybody else would do. I called a towing service and they towed my car.
How about in the hood?
In the hood?
How bad was the neighborhood you grew up in?
I grew up in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. It was a typical inner city project. You had a lot of crime, a lot of poverty, a lot of love, a lot of funniness, all of that. It was typical projects U.S.A. I didn’t grow up nowhere else.
When did you know you wanted to be a comedian?
No, no, no, no, no. My career fell in my lap baby. I wasn’t one of those kids who was like I’m going to grow up to be a superstar. I was involved in sports, I played high school football, I ran track. I got involved with the wrong crowd at some point but was able to move away from that with the help of my parents and my uncles. Then when I had my family when I was about twenty-two I got involved with comedy. I went to workshops and I got on TV and my career fell in my lap.
When you were running with a bad crowd what was the worst thing that happened to you?
One of my friends got killed.
Oh no. How did that happen?
He was selling drugs. I was up there with my girl, my wife. We weren’t married yet and I got a phone call that he got killed for selling drugs and I got into comedy a few months later.
So things were pretty rough in the neighborhood?
Yeah. Things were pretty rough growing up.
Did you ever get jumped?
Naw. I was too cool for that stuff. Maybe fights and stuff.
What characters from your neighborhood have ended up making it into your comedy?
I know a few people that come out of the hood, Jay-Z. Unfortunately my boy Biggie Smalls got murdered you know. I know a few people that come out of the hood. I know a few roses that grew from the cracks in the cement.
You used to hang out with Biggie and Jay-Z?
Me and Jay-Z went to school together and I met Biggie later on in life when we became entertainers.
So what would you and Jay do in class?
Naw, we weren’t in the same class but we went to the same school. I didn’t know him like that. It was junior high school. We did typical stuff, went to gym, stuff like that.
What kind of prank calls did you make when you were a kid?
Naw, man. Growing up in the hood, you don’t mess with the phone bill like that. You’s too poor to be playin’ on the mothafuckin’ phone. My mom would’ve whooped my ass if I’d been playin’ on the phone. Do you know what the phone bill would’ve been like?
On Crank Yankers you were always trying to get the bedunk-adunk. What exactly is the bedunk-a-dunk?
It’s a nice, big, juicy fat ass. I love that. I don’t know a brother who don’t.
If Spoonie Luv (his crank yankers character) had 30 seconds to talk a girl into bed, what would he say?
Spoonie really ain’t gotta say nothin’. All Spoonie’s gotta do is pull his pants down.
What would that get him?
That’d get him laid.
Because Spoonie got a big fuckin’ dick.
You've been married for 17 years, what's the secret to a lasting relationship?
Not to take things personal and not to hold no grudges and straight up communication. That’s what it is.
Seriously, when was the last time you cheated on your wife?
I don’t cheat on my wife. I don’t. If I was down 17 years that don’t make no sense. I cheated on my wife with one woman and her name is comedy, but my wife don’t mind her though because she takes care of us.
You played Hustle Man on Martin. What's been your best real life hustle?
What’s my hustle in real life?
What’s been your best hustle?
Just show business in general.
Have you ever had to pull a fast one on anyone though?
I’m straight-up funny. I’m Tracy Morgan. I ain’t gotta do none of that shit. I’m the real deal.
Why do you test your material out in barbershops?
That’s where the real people are. That’s where you can be you.
Now that your show is shooting out in LA, how do the barbershops stack up?
I don’t find ‘em out here. Whenever I’m on my set in hair and makeup I just speak my shit. I don’t just normally go in there with material.
Do you get good feedback from your stylist?
Whenever people laugh, that’s feedback to me.
What kind of material have you found in the people of LA?
I haven’t done standup much in LA. My material comes from inside and a lot of it is from my observation so I haven’t had a chance to observe anything because I been working so much.
You haven’t had time to get out and run into anybody?
I been workin’ so much. I’m just comin’ off of three shows. I’m just restin’ right now with my family back in New York. We just chillin’ out.
Do you ever make it out to yoga class?
I’m not into yoga man.
What do you like to do?
For exercise I work out with a personal trainer. We work out one hour a day. Other than that, I’m really boring man.
What about every day people when you’re out and about in LA? How are they different?
To me it’s all the same. In New York people are a little bit more aggressive. In LA they’re a little big more laid back.
You spoofed ex-porn stars on SNL. What experiences have you had with the real thing now that you’re in LA?
Naw. I’m not trying to run in those circles man.
It seems like it’s everywhere in LA. . .
The porno? Oh my goodness.
You played Suge Knight on SNL, too. He sends hugs. Have you invested in a flak jacket yet?
Why would I do that? Do you think Suge would come after me?
What do you think?
Suge ain’t thinkin’ about me. What have I got that Suge wants? Suge knows me. He ain’t offended.
Has he ever seen your impersonation?
I don’t know.
He didn’t say anything when you ran into him?
Suge is cool with me. I’m not his friend. We don’t know each other like that. He got other things on his mind than worrying about people impersonating him on TV. Believe me. Suge is not thinking about that.
You made fun of both Mike Tyson and Star Jones on SNL. . .
Both of them are good friends of mine. They love me.
Which one are you most worried about getting your ass kicked by?
I’m not worried about either one of them dude. I’m not a sucker. I’m not a punk.
So you’re pals with Mike?
We run into each other.
What do you think about Mike’s new face tattoo?
I think it’s cool. That shit is hot.
If you got a face tattoo what would you get?
If I got a face tattoo I’d probably get a dollar sign.
Because I’m money in the bank.
What was it like singing to Britney Spears while dressed as a homeless man?
It was fun to sing to Britney. It was fun to look at her pretty face, her pretty lips, it was fun to kiss her. It was pimp, daddy.
What was it like to work with her?
She’s down like four flat tires.
What did you like about her?
Ass, titties, everything.
What was the funniest thing you saw happen backstage?
My wife was walking in some stilettos and she slipped in front of Al Gore and bust her ass and I cracked up.
How did she take that?
She was crying, masscara was runnin’ down her face. And that’s what happened.
What did Al Gore do?
Al Gore started laughing at my wife, too. I think Mick Jagger was standing right there. She was pretty embarassed. Then I took her home and laid the shit out of her.
Did that take care of things?
That took care of things.
How did you first meet Lorne Michaels?
I first met Lorne over at the comic strip.
Did you meet him when you were working outside Yankee’s stadium?
No, I never met him there.
You didn’t meet him when you were working there?
Oh, yes I did. I was selling souvenirs at Yankee’s stadium when I was fourteen and that’s when I first saw him.
Did he ever buy anything from you?
I couldn’t remember. He probably did.
Was he surprised to see you at SNL?
I don’t know. You would have to ask him that.
What did you do to help advance the legend of SNL cast parties?
My whole thing is taking my shirt off and singing karaoke. Pat Benatar—we are young/heartache to heartache we dance/love is a battlefield. That was me and Horatio’s favorite song.
What else would go on at those parties?
It was hot, just drinkin’ and good times all around. This ain’t the seventies, no drugs, nothin’ crazy. In order to get the full experience you have to go to one. It’s rockin’.
Did you ever have guests who would get a little crazy?
No. Not really. Partying, good times all around baby.
Did any former cast members ever show up to party with you?
Dan Akroyd parties with us, Chevy parties with us.
Did they teach you any lesson?
Naw, it was just partyin’ baby. Everybody turns off their characters and we just hang out.
What was your best SNL skit that never made it to the air?
I did a character called Here Comes Bernard. He was a talk show host that used to beat up his own guests. That was around the time of the Jerry Springer thing. I wasn’t too hurt. It’s part of the game.
Was there any SNL hazing for new guys?
Not counting SNL, what was the last job you quit?
I never quit SNL. I left on top at SNL.
Okay. What was the last job you left on top before that?
I think I was a security guard.
Where was that?
Somewhere down by the World Trade Center.
What did you do?
I was a security guard. I secured lots. I sat for a hundred hours.
Did anything funny ever happen?
That was a low paying job, I had kids, there wasn’t nothin’ funny about that shit.
What was the worst job you ever had?
That security job.
Was that a hard time in your life?
Sure. I was gettin’ like $4.50 an hour and I had a wife and three kids. I maintained and took care of my family and that was all that mattered to me was that they ate.
What's the dirtiest phrase you know?
Tossin’ salad. You know what that means right?
Lick her asshole. You think that’s dirtier than a Cleveland Steamer?
That’s when you shit on a girl’s chest. . .
That’s the grossest thing I ever heard! You just took the cake bro bro. That’s fucking grosser than the shocker and everything else.
What's the filthiest sex position?
It has to be fucking anal.
How much more are you pampered on your new sitcom than you were on SNL?
There’s a little bit more pampering going on but I’m a down to earth guy so I don’t really notice it. My name’s first on the marquee. That’s a perk to me.
Any little things? Do you get pedicures or anything like that?
Naw. Craft services ask me what I want to eat. That’s about it. They give me a healthy diet.
Who’s the inspiration for Reggie, the character you play in the Sega ads?
It’s just something that I guess I did. I don’t know what made me come up with Reggie but I love that guy. He’s a nutball. He’s crazy. He’s outrageous, just sneakin’ up on athletes and doin’ his dances.
What team do you like to play when you play the game?
I don’t play the games.
Do they ever ask you to come in and play Reggie?
None of that stuff goes on in my house. That’s just for the camera. They know that’s dad’s job and they know the difference between dad’s job and who he is. That’s the bedunk-adunk.