Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Seven things I learned from reading Tracy Morgan's book


1)  Good thing there's probably some sort of statute of limitations on drug busts because Tracy Morgan flat-out admits to spending his youth dealing drugs (weed later followed by crack) for a living. In fact, I'd even say this book has educational value: I learned things about the illicit drug trade (particularly Bronx circa the late 1980's) that I never knew before reading this book. Tracy Morgan said that he liked drug dealing because it gave him opportunities to talk to people and even try out his comedy routines.

I'd imagine that crackheads would be too zoned out to appreciate a good stand-up routine and first-time buyers would be too nervous to be bombarded with a stand-up routine in a shady parking lot drop-off. The more I think about it, in fact, the more suicidally insane it would seem to use your job dealing in a shady parking lot in the Bronx as a platform to hone your comedic skills. If I had known Tracy Morgan at the time, I would have fervently advised him NOT to mix stand-up comedy with drug dealing.

2) Tonally, the book is very interesting in that Tracy Morgan likes to drop the f-bomb a lot and write as though he's speaking in a streetwise (I thought for a good 6 or 7 minutes about what adjective I wanted to use here and still feel like I failed) manner. At the same time, he's clearly picked up a lot from his environment. When he discusses the experience of being on TV shows,  he displays a fairly intellegent grasp of the vocabulary used by people in the TV industry. Additionally, when he's talking about writing comedy or the nature of comedy in general, he sounds very intelligent and clearly knows what he's doing. Other times, he makes really good use of metaphors: "My life growing up was like a twisted Bronx Tale version of The Color Purple." The odd effect of this mix of styles is that when he transitions from talking about a sketch he performed on SNL to something else, it looks as though he lapsed into illiteracy.


3) Tracy Morgan officially confirms the longstanding rumors that he and Tina Fey are BFF's. Tina Fey and Morgan had a strong bond since joining SNL at roughly the same time and notes that he was the first person to be called to be on the show preceding even Alec Baldwin's
casting.

Taking advice from one of his comedic idols Richard Pryor, Tracy Morgan believed that everything in his life should be used as comedic fodder. He gave Tina Fey carte blanche to use everything she knew about him for show material and believes that the character of Tracy Jordan was successful largely because he was based on a real person's body of experiences.

4) The after-after-after party cold open from the Season 1 episode "The Source Awards" was based on a wild night on SNL when Tracy Morgan got Tina Fey, Horatio Sanz, and Rachel Dratch among others to ditch the traditional after party and go to what sounds like the shadiest nightclub you've ever heard of. Tina encountered far wilder things than a clingy Wayne Brady that night.


5) If you're looking for dirt on other SNL members, Tracy Morgan reserves exactly two lines of his book to diss two former cast members in a disconcertingly vague way:
"All I have to say about that is, where's Chris Katan now? Where's Cheri Oteri now? That b***h can't even get arrested"
I'm going to go out and say it: This was highly irresponsible of Tracy Morgan. It's highly vague whether Katan and Oteri were actually mean to him or whether he's singling them out becuase they didn't go on to much fame. If Katan and Oteri were legitimately deserving of this, that's fine, but he doesn't go on to say much more, and either way, it's kicking two people when they're down.

In the meantime, the media picked up pretty heavily on that line of the book, with the end result that Oteri and Katan were dragged into the news cycle (Huffington Post, Celebitchy.com, TV Guide, USA TodayEntertainment Weekly  the AV Club, and the grand mecca of all entertainment news: the Tampa Bay Times) because they were a-holes to Tracy Morgan. Imagine how their agents must have felt that virtually the only publicity those guys got after leaving Saturday Night Live is a vague line in Tracy Morgan's book about how they might be complete jerks. Even if they APPEARED to be jerks to Tracy Morgan, it's highly possible that they were just dealing with their own issues and might have been misunderstood. It's well-documented, after all, that SNL's hectic schedule is conducive to bringing out the worst in people. [Ed. note: apparently, in the reading of the audiobook a few months later, Tracy Morgan went off-script and elaborated a little more on Oteri and Kattan]

6) Tracy Morgan doesn't discriminate between his friends. He has "friends who are black, white, purple, gay, straight, Martian, yellow, old, and young." I'm glad his circle of friends extends to 25% of the solar system. In all seriousness, I love this line because Morgan has a persona that is batshit-crazy enough that I could see him literally believing in Martians.

7) It's entirely possible that Tracy Morgan is unaware of the existence of  Tim Meadows (as well as Dean Edwards and Jerry Minjor). Throughout his book, Morgan refers to himself as the show's only black castmember.
[Ed. note: In a later interview, Morgan clarified he doesn't have any animosity towards Tim but the two rarely interacted because they were from different eras and Tim had so much seniority when he came in]


1 comment:

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