Tracy Morgan discusses his standup

From his cult classic sketches developed over eight years as a cast member on Saturday Night Live to his constant scene-stealing as the brash loud-mouthed “character” Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock there’d be a lot to talk about with comedic actor and performer Tracy Morgan.

Unfortunately minutes before our talk his publicist informed me that he didn’t want to talk about any of that stuff nor did he want to discuss pop culture at large. She didn’t say we couldn’t talk about his show Scare Tactics but that’s because she didn’t need to. No one has ever talked about his show Scare Tactics .

Either way I was told to keep my interview focused on Morgan’s standup — an interesting request as it makes it all but impossible for this to be a Tracy Morgan puff piece.

For those not up to speed: In 2011 Morgan performed in Nashville Tennessee and said that if his son came out of the closet and started speaking in a high-pitched voice he’d “pull out a knife and stab” him. Morgan quickly issued an apology and months later landed more headlines for a tirade about “retarded children” at a different show.

Earlier this year at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival a Herald Sun review claims that more than 50 people walked out. Quotes from attendees include phrases like “beyond the gutter” “lazy bored and repetitive” and “not funny at all.” One commenter described him as a “pathetic dinosaur with ideas that the civilized world has left behind.”

Currently promoting his Pardon My French tour which will see him play The Laugh Shop in Calgary from September 12 to 14 Morgan was clearly uninterested in my softball questions but happy to rant against the “cowards” criticizing him on social media. According to him Honey Boo Boo’s the real problem.

What are you up to today?

Just relaxing just watching television. I’m at home I’m in Jersey.

What do you usually do before you leave on a comedy tour?

I’m just in the area right now working on new material. I just spend a lot of time with my family.

How does this current standup tour differ from previous shows you’ve done?

This tour is different because… actually this is my first tour period. I spent the good majority of my career on television and movies so my growth as a comedian was sort of stunted…. This tour I’m not on television right now so I’m really able to grow as a standup and focus on standup.

Were you always hoping to work on your standup while you were busy with other projects?

I’ve never left standup. There were just other wonderful things in my career. Standup is the foundation of my whole career. Now I’m actually getting to do it. I’m still going on TV and doing other things but right now I have the time to do it. Standup comedy is the ultimate in show business. It’s me the microphone and the crowd.

Do you think you’ll release a special?

Actually I’m shooting one for Comedy Central on September 7.

So you’ll shoot your special then come to Calgary a few days later.

Yes and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been to Calgary. I love the crowd in Canada because they’re hip I can take them anywhere.

What else do you think of when you think of Canada?


With your standup in the last few years a lot of people have gotten offended by some stuff you’ve said. Do you take that to heart?

Not a lot of people. Don’t say a lot of people that’s just social media. That’s one or two people if I talk about sex they was offended. I guess those are the people who don’t do it right. They don’t like it. But not a lot of people. My fans love me. My fans come out to see me. I admit over the years I’ve been a bit vulgar but that’s because I spent 17 years on TV that’s all. So you come off of TV and you say that you need to gravitate towards a bit of vulgarity because you feel you lost your edge. Then you wonder and you say no you haven’t and you pull back on the vulgarity so your audience can focus on your funny. Every comedian goes through that. Eddie Murphy did the greatest standup ever which was Delerious and the very first joke was Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton having anal sex. They complained about him.

Are you saying that people are too sensitive about this?

Totally totally totally. If they don’t like comedy tell them to stay home and make it a Blockbuster night. You can’t come to a comedy show…. I’m sorry I can’t be Seinfeld. I’m sorry I can’t be Ray Romano. But that’s not how I was born and raised. That’s not where I come from. Where I come from is the ghetto there ain’t no money there. There’s not too many things that make black people happy in poverty. And one of them is sex. One of them is comedy. One of them is music. So that’s what I talk about onstage.

Is there a line that you think is too far in terms of vulgarity?

We don’t control that line I’m sorry. We don’t control that line on funny funny funny not funny. People today are just ultra-sensitive about everything. Everybody got an opinion on everything. Everybody got social media now. Everybody wants to voice their opinion. I go to a show and nobody curses and it’s too bland. What do I do go home and complain about it?

You could.

That’s not what I do. The people that put it out there like that I think that’s cowardly. You know? I think that’s cowardly.

You mean people hiding behind their computers?

Yeah people and their computers use it as a weapon. Sometimes people use it as a weapon sometimes. They say mean things about me. Me talking about sex onstage me talking about porno onstage. You shouldn’t come at me. The porno industry made nine billion dollars last year. Nobody’s complaining about that. Nobody goes home and gets on their computers and says ‘We need to stop the porn industry.’ They don’t want to do that. It’s easy to come at me. I’m low-hanging fruit. I’m low-hanging fruit. That’s only because some people don’t know how to think out the box and they come to my shows thinking they gonna see Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin and all these other characters. They think they gonna see Tracy Jordan. No I’m talking about where I come from and people are offended about that.

That stuff really blew up a few years ago but when you were writing this new material did those voices pop up in your head?

No no. Nobody pops up in my head dude. Just Tracy Morgan dude. What kinda dude… you think I’m weak-minded? You think I let other people in my head? I could care less about people on social media. They need to get lives.

That’s a big debate in comedy right now right? Free speech in comedy and what’s okay to talk about and what’s not okay to talk about.

That’s why George Carlin made his bit about the seven words. Standup comedy a comedy room or a comedy concert should be off limits. That’s where we should go to make fun of all of our crap. You know what’s so disgusting? How people would get upset with me for talking about sex or fornication or whatever you want to call it. Love-making whatever you want to call it. And nobody says anything about Kim Kardashian and what she’s doing. Nobody says anything about Honey Boo Boo. Nobody says nothing about none of that.

How does that relate?

Have you seen that show Honey Boo Boo ? Don’t you think that’s disgusting? I think people should complain about that.

Okay I think I can kind of see what you’re saying. Anything else you want to say before I let you go?

Calgary yo listen. Put your cellphones away put your cameras away and come in and enjoy the show. Keep your mind open think outside the box and let’s have a good time.