Tracy Morgan, real life

Tracy Mor­gan brings his funny busi­ness to the Keswick Theatre on­Sat­urday.

By Rita Char­le­ston
For the Times
Grow­ing up in the rough neigh­bor­hood of Bed­ford-Stuyves­ant, and en­dur­ing a tough child­hood wouldn’t lead many men to com­edy. But in the case of Tracy Mor­gan, it did.
“I was al­ways a funny kid,” said Mor­gan, 43, who is set to take the stage at the Keswick Theatre on Sat­urday. “I think com­edy was al­ways in me, so I don’t think I picked it. I think it picked me.”
Really, said one of the stars of NBC’s Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-win­ning 30 Rock, “I couldn’t see my­self do­ing any­thing else in life. Sure, every­body has a rough be­gin­ning, and I did too. I’m not Par­is Hilton and I wasn’t born with a sil­ver spoon in my mouth. But I’m all right. I’m far away from those early days. I’m a grown man now. You live and you learn. Life is com­plic­ated, but we try.”
And Mor­gan cer­tainly did try. Spurred on by a good friend to try com­edy, Mor­gan began do­ing stand-up, build­ing his act on the dif­fi­cult situ­ations he’d dealt with in his life. It was dur­ing one of those stand-up per­form­ances that Sat­urday Night Live’s Lorne Mi­chaels saw Mor­gan and de­cided to au­di­tion him for the pop­u­lar TV show.
Mor­gan’s hu­mor landed him a spot on the show and he stayed for sev­en years be­fore mov­ing on to oth­er things. In 2003, Mor­gan left SNL to head­line his own show on NBC, a sit­com called The Tracy Mor­gan Show. Al­though the show didn’t last long, Mor­gan was able to turn his tal­ents to oth­er pur­suits, land­ing sig­ni­fic­ant roles in a hand­ful of fea­ture films.
And in 2006, Mor­gan found his niche on 30 Rock, the sit­com cre­ated by fel­low SNL alumna Tina Fey. A long­time friend and ad­mirer of Mor­gan’s, Fey wrote the char­ac­ter of Tracy Jordan spe­cific­ally for Mor­gan.
“Tina came to SNL three years after me and we al­ways had a good time work­ing to­geth­er,” Mor­gan said. “We are pro­fes­sion­als and we work well to­geth­er. There’s a chem­istry there that’s al­ways been there.”
In 2009, Mor­gan re­ceived his first Emmy nom­in­a­tion for his role in 30 Rock in the Sup­port­ing Act­or cat­egory. He’s also been nom­in­ated for a Sup­port­ing Act­or NAACP Im­age Award, and has won the Screen Act­ors Guild Award for “Out­stand­ing Per­form­ance in an En­semble in a Com­edy Series.”
Among the oth­er heights he reached in 2009 was the re­lease of his book, I Am The New Black, a com­pil­a­tion of an­ec­dotes and some of the more ser­i­ous mo­ments that shaped him and his ca­reer.
“I wanted to tell my own story rather than have someone else tell it,” Mor­gan ex­plained. “I’ve nev­er been the kind of per­son who asks ‘why?’ but rather, ‘why not?’ I’m some­body who came from the ghetto and learned how to make it. Some­body had to, so why not me?”
Mor­gan has also been heard lend­ing his voice to the an­im­ated film RIO, tackled a role in the drama The Son Of No One, and roun­ded out his list of great comed­ic achieve­ments with his first HBO spe­cial, Black & Blue.
And when he takes the stage at the Keswick, he said he hopes his audi­ence will real­ize that his stand-up is un­like what they see him do on tele­vi­sion.
“When I get on stage,” Mor­gan said, “I just want to spread my love and do it live. What I do on TV is for TV. But this will be live en­ter­tain­ment. It’s straight up, with no chaser. Some­times, when people come to com­edy shows they come ex­pect­ing to see what they see on TV. But this is live. This is life. This is the real stand-up. This is the real me.”
For show times and tick­et in­form­a­tion, call 215-572-7650.

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