Tracy Morgan | Interview
Tracy Morgan is serious about just joking.
“Black is the new president, bitch.” On Saturday Night Live last month, Tracy Morgan delivered that insta-lexicon retort to Tina Fey’s earlier SNL endorsement of Hillary Clinton. The quip also traded on the comedian-actor’s trademark blurring of himself with his comic persona: Was that him speaking or just the SNL writers? (They wrote the sketch, he tells us.) Likewise, Tracy Morgan blends into Tracy Jordan, his 30 Rock character: Morgan got an alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelet; later, Jordan had his own. Yet speaking by phone, the New York native wanted to make the distinction between his stage and offstage lives crystal clear. The following is an extended version of the Q&A that appeared in this week's issue.
Time Out Chicago: As an Obama supporter, did it bother you when Tina Fey endorsed Clinton on SNL?
Tracy Morgan: Why, ’cause I’m black? No. If we are to a point in our society where Saturday Night Live is picking our presidents, we really need to check ourselves.
TOC: You were on a local news show in El Paso. Do you know the one?
Tracy Morgan: Yeah. What about it?
TOC: Did you know that clip’s gotten a million views on YouTube?
Tracy Morgan: No, I didn’t. I just know that somebody said I was wasted when I did it, and I wasn’t. I was just being funny. And the person that put it on YouTube and said that Tracy Morgan was wasted was offensive. Why can’t a black man just be funny? Why I have to be drunk?
TOC: If you Google “Tracy Morgan,” that clip is the fifth thing that comes up.
Tracy Morgan: Right. And? I don’t even use computers. I’m 39 years old; I don’t fuck with computers. I’m BC: I’m before that crap.
TOC: One reason people might be interested in that clip is that you’ve had a history with drink, right?
Tracy Morgan: No, I got two DUIs, but that was four Coronas. I was over the limit. I’m not a drunk. I don’t drink.
TOC: There’s a New York Times article, you went out with the reporter…?
Tracy Morgan: Right, and I had a sake bomb. At a Japanese restaurant. It was part of a tradition. And that was about five months ago. Come on, dude. Are you a real journalist? You digging for dirt?
TOC: I’m just telling you what I’ve read.
Tracy Morgan: Oh, don’t believe everything you read, dude. When I come to Chicago, me and you hang out and you’ll see everything you need to see about me.
TOC: When your sons watch 30 Rock, is your character just like Dad to them?
Tracy Morgan: No, my oldest son is 22, my youngest son is 16, they know me. I’m around my kids everyday. I’m regular. We’re a regular family. My wife cooks, she washes clothes, I read books, I pump my own gas, I get my own hair cut.
TOC: You’re not getting divorced then?
Tracy Morgan: Me and my wife are separated but we are friends. She’s my best friend. We were married for 21 years. You don’t stop loving each other after that long a time. We’re cool. We get along.
TOC: So you were a dad when you were your sons’ age.
Tracy Morgan: In the ghetto we always have kids young. In the ghetto we use sex as a sedative. It eases the pain of poverty: You’re broke and I’m broke, let’s make a family. That’s just how it is.
TOC: What do you tell your sons about that?
Tracy Morgan: Take your time, young man, don’t rush to get old. I’m glad they’re all virgins and they’re all focused and two are in college, the baby’s in 11th grade. They didn’t have to rush to go out there in the streets. They don’t know nothing about none of that stuff.
TOC: You’ve talked about the Spitzer scandal. What do you think about—
Tracy Morgan: I don’t care about that crap, man. He’s just another corrupt politician. I don’t care about his sex action. So what, he bought a little, so what? I think he paid too much for it. Guy’s a guy. If his wife ain’t putting out, he gotta get it somewhere. I’d rather him do that than go out there and fucking shoot 15 people. ’Cause if you don’t get some skins, you gonna go mad. Fucking guy, he gotta get his dick wet.
TOC: What’d you think about David Paterson saying he’d had affairs, too?
Tracy Morgan: So what? Good for him. He got other pussy. What, he’s supposed to be with one fucking woman his whole life ’cause he’s a governor? People need to be fucking realistic, man.
TOC: But you were with just one woman since you got married?
Tracy Morgan: When I was with my wife, I was with my wife. I didn’t have no affairs when I was with my wife. But before my wife, I was a Hurricane Katrina. I was fucking everything.
TOC: So when you joke about wanting to get women pregnant—just jokes?
Tracy Morgan: Just jokes, dude. Come on, man. You’re smarter than that. Why you asking me these crazy fucking questions, man? You know I’m fucking joking. I’m a comedian, man. I think the word pregnant is funny.
TOC: Well, the way you say it is funny.
Tracy Morgan: It is funny having somebody saying it out in the open. Everybody act like being pregnant is such a bad fucking thing. Fucking world is a bunch of degenerates sometimes. It’s fucked up when we have soldiers dying in Iraq, and we worry more about Britney fucking Spears.
TOC: In your stand-up show last November in New York, audience members supposedly walked out?
Tracy Morgan: People were dying to get in. Somebody don’t agree with whatever I said, I don’t give a fuck. If you ain’t offensive, then you probably ain’t fucking funny. People walked out on Richard Pryor and he’s the funniest man alive. Everybody can’t be Ray Romano. When I’m onstage I’m gonna talk about what the fuck I know. I grew up in Brooklyn, Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, and I’m talking about that. I am an acquired taste. Everybody don’t like fucking Chex. Some people like Cap’n Crunch.
TOC: You’re turning 40 this year. Any thoughts on that?
Tracy Morgan: It’s a milestone in my world, man. I knew motherfuckers who lost their lives when they were 20. I grew up in a hard place. Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Look it up.
Tracy Morgan's April 26 show at the Vic has been postponed until June 21.
See some of Tracy's greatest talk show spots in our video gallery.