Since his seven-year stint on "Saturday Night Live," Tracy Morgan has best been known for three things: his role as sketch-comedy cast member Tracy Jordan on Tina Fey's Emmy-winning sitcom "30 Rock," his shirt-removing, desk-laying appearances on morning TV shows, and alcohol-related arrests that earned him a monitoring ankle bracelet (and a subsequent storyline about it on the show). Morgan, battling a wicked cough, vaguely discussed his work during a cell-phone conversation in advance of his appearance Sat., March 8, 8 p.m., at Center Stage.
Talk about the status of "30 Rock" now that the writers' strike is over.
Oh, the status is great. We go back to work Monday. We start filming Monday. We're happy to be back, and we're looking forward.
I see the movies you worked on were Deep in the Valley and G-Force. Talk about those.
Ah, the movies are great. Deep in the Valley, I did a one-day shoot in there.
I see your character there is Busta Nut. Who is Busta Nut?
Oh, Busta Nut is a character! He's just a character in a movie that they came up with. (Coughs.) And I play him. Just a character.
What’s the plot of the movie?
I don’t know. I only shot one day on it.
Where do you get your material for your stand-up?
My space. My everyday life. I don't make stuff up. I talk about my experiences as a black person, as a human being. Just talk about my experiences.
Give me some examples.
Give you some examples? Come on, man, you got to come to the show. You want me to act on the phone?
I was curious about the creative process that goes into developing your character on "30 Rock." Can you talk a little bit about how you work with Tina Fey and the writers?
You'd have to ask Tina Fey that. As far as the process, you'd have to ask the writers and Tina Fey that. I just bring the energy and the character. Tina's hung out with me long enough that she knows my voice.
Was there something you wanted out of your character’s identity in particular that you wanted to get across?
I just wanted to have fun. We just having fun. It’s not rocket science. It’s just having fun, that’s all.
When you're able to make light of your personal stuff, whether onstage or on "30 Rock," what's the value?
I also get over it, and [it] lets them know it’s OK to laugh about it. We don’t do it immediately, because of the wound is so fresh. But it cleans and heals. But it’s all part of the healing process. It’s like with Lorne Michaels for the 9/11 show on “Saturday Night Live." He brought the mayor on to let everybody in America know, it’s time for us to laugh again. What am I going to do? Cry about what happened? Might as well laugh about it. Richard Pryor made fun of himself when he caught on fire.