I usually go out of the office for lunch because it gets a little stuffy in there and well, sometimes you just need to escape from people. There's a lovely little park about two minutes away where I go walk on days when it's not excruciatingly cold/rainy/etc. outside, and today was no different. Granted, it was pretty damned cold, but I brought my extra-insulated gloves and scarf, mainly to further my transformation into the little brother from "A Christmas Story." Unfortunately for that aspiration, I never got out of my car.
Instead I found myself entranced by this angry sounding guy being interviewed by Terri Gross on NPR. His voice sounded familiar, but I could not figure out who it was. It was actually pretty infuriating as I racked my brain in the parking lot, and I had originally thought it was a football player or something. He talked about growing up in the ghetto, having a heroin-addicted father and his lack of role models growing up. Finally, Terri Gross said the "Well, if you're just joining us" speech and reintroduced her guest: Tracy Morgan.
At first, I was like, "Ah, yes, Brian Fellows. That's where I've heard him before." But then I actually started to listen to him. When Terri confronted him about his anger issues, he stated that he wasn't that way anymore; he was just passionate. He spoke openly about his father and his unstable childhood. He discussed his experience with SNL (and his love for Lorne Michaels, who told him that he wasn't "here [at SNL] because [he] was black; [he] was there because [he] was funny) and his collaborative relationship with Tina Fey, including their work on "30 Rock."
He also brought up the interesting notion of black comedians, one that I've noted for a while. He said that, many times, black comedians get comfortable with their audience and don't know how to do anything other than ghetto comedy. This puts them in a niche market and greatly limits their potential to grow as entertainers. Coming from a self-described "ghetto boy," I found this enlightening and actually kind of inspirational. I'm not saying (and neither is he, seeing as he embraces his edgier approach with the ghetto influences) that they should forget their pasts and experiences growing up, but to sequester one's self just seems harmful to any type of artistic pursuit.
What amazed me, though, was how vulnerable he was in this interview. He actually had to stop talking for a few moments, fighting back tears, when he said that he never wanted to hurt his mother when he left to live with his father (who had sobered up from his addiction) and eventually came and got his younger brother and sister from her care. It was very touching, especially when he said that he hoped his mother read his book (I Am the New Black) so she could read about how much he loved her and knew that she had done everything she could for him and his siblings.
Now, I probably won't go out and buy Morgan's memoir, but I might check it out at the library. I probably won't watch any of his movies or rewatch one of those SNL "Best of" DVDs because, well, I never really found Tracy to be that incredibly funny. But I do have a special place in my heart for him now. This interview may just have been enough for me to start watching "30 Rock," though. Plus, I miss me some Tina Fey.
PS The quote in the title is from what Tracy Morgan sketch? Highlight the following portion for the answer: his Maya Angelou impression on Weekend Update with Tina Fey