Currently starring on NBC’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning show “30 Rock,” Tracy Morgan appears opposite Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin as Tracy Jordan, the unpredictable star of a hit variety show.
So far, the life Morgan is living now has turned out to be a hit, but it wasn’t always so.
“I grew up in a rough neighborhood in New York,” says Morgan, set to take the stage tomorrow at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside. “Growing up, I was an angry kid. But I was also a funny little kid, and so I think comedy was always inside me and just had to find the right time and place to come out.”
And when it finally did, there was no turning back. Encouraged by a friend who urged him to try his talent on the stage, Morgan took the advice to heart and began building a stand-up career.
Building his act on the things he knew best — like the difficult situations he had to deal with in his life — one of his performances was seen by “Saturday Night Live’s” Lorne Michaels, who decided to audition the young comic for a spot on the popular TV show.
Not only did Morgan do well in his audition, but he secured a spot on the show and stayed there for the next seven years before moving on to other things, such as starring in his own comedy series, “The Tracy Morgan Show.”
Although his show didn’t do as well as he had hoped, Morgan was able to turn his talents to other things, including landing significant roles in a handful of feature films. And in 2006, he found his niche on “30 Rock,” the sitcom created by fellow “SNL” alumna and longtime friend, Tina Fey.
“SNL was like a university for funny for me,” Morgan recalls. “But I had to let my guard down to let the writers in.”
And so he did. And three years later, Morgan received his first Emmy Nomination for his role in the sitcom 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.
Morgan also headlined in New York’s famed Comedy Festival, and rounded out his list of great comedic moments with his first HBO Special, “Black and Blue,” among other things.
But Morgan claims to have reached new heights with the publication of his first book, “I Am The New Black,” a compilation of anecdotes and some of the more serious moments that shaped him, his life and his career.
“I wanted to tell my own story before someone else could tell it,” Morgan explains. “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 do it, so why not me?”
And when he takes the stage at the Keswick, Morgan said he hopes his audience reacts to him as a stand-up performer, and not the performer they are used to seeing on television.
He says, “When I get up on stage I just want to spread my love and do it all live. What I do on television has nothing to do with what I do as a live performer. On stage it’s all straight up with no chaser.”
And today, the anger that ruled his life for so many years as a teen has all but gone. “That little, angry 17-year-old has grownup. I am a man now. I was angry when I was younger but I’ve had to let it go. I’ve left the cocoon, and now I’m a beautiful, black butterfly.”
For times and ticket information, call (215) 572-7650.