If you imagined all the songs comedian and actor Tracy Morgan might sing over the telephone, bet you’d never come up with Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything for Love.”
Morgan, who is making his Montana debut March 27 at 7 p.m. at the Alberta Bair Theater, showed that he has no filter when he talks or sings. But would you expect anything else? He sang for a full 60 seconds during our recent 10-minute chat and he didn’t sound too bad.
Morgan is comfortable at this stage of his life and career. He’s got a baby on the way with model Megan Wollover, just finished an incredible run as Tracy Jordan on “30 Rock,” and is hitting the road on a stand-up comedy tour. That contrasts sharply with where he came from. A small kid who was targeted by bullies growing up in Brooklyn, Morgan dropped out of high school to marry his girlfriend and raise their child. He sold crack cocaine to pay the bills. Morgan also performed comedy on the streets and when his best friend was murdered, Morgan chose making people laugh over getting them high.
Morgan is a man who knows how to both face tough challenges and create challenges. He’s forced mainstream entities like TNT and NBC to apologize for his abrasive comments against gays and Sarah Palin. But you’ve got to respect a guy who’s just trying to be himself.
“Politically correct is killing comedy,” Morgan said. “Too many people try to be politically correct. I’m not gonna start being a liar. I’m a 44-year-old black man raised in Brooklyn. This is who I am.”
Morgan said he doesn’t pre-write material for his stand-up show, but prefers to be spontaneous. Maybe that’s why there are apologies.
Morgan said too many people focus on the material and not the delivery. Not him.
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“I try to keep my heart light and try to stay drama-free,” Morgan said of his stand-up technique.
Morgan looked up to the late comic Richard Pryor and other comedians, including Eddie Murphy and Tim Meadows. During his “Saturday Night Live” stint from 1996 to 2003, Morgan played several memorable characters, including Astronaut Jones.
Some of Morgan’s own health issues, including diabetes, were incorporated into his “30 Rock” character, who was a loose cannon movie star. He said he learned much from performing for seven seasons on the show and had a great time, but he's moved on. Even though Morgan worked with one of the funniest women in America on “30 Rock,” SNL alumna Tina Fey, Morgan said they were all-business on the set.
“We didn’t have time for goofing around. Single camera is like filming a movie all the time. If we goofed around, we would have been there 20 hours a day. I have a family,” he said.
Then the conversation got weird again. Morgan began quoting Harry S. Truman.
“He was a great president. He said, ‘The buck stops here.’ In 1952, he said, ‘If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.’ How do I know? I was in the kitchen when I heard that.”