Tracy Morgan needs no introduction, but for the sake of getting readers excited about his upcoming May 14 show at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center, let’s give him one anyway.
Born and raised in New York City, Morgan has become one of the most well-known and well-respected comedians in the U.S. His television appearances have included numerous stand-up specials, as well as a spot on the cast of Saturday Night Live from 1996–2003. He is best known to millions of 30 Rock fans as Tracy Jordan, his character on the show who borrows more than a first name from Morgan’s real life. Most recently, he could be seen on acclaimed TBS comedy The Last O.G.
In anticipation if his most recent comedy tour, No Disrespect, coming to WHBPAC, we jumped on a call with Morgan on April 28 to try and pick his brain about the tour, his perspective on today’s comedy landscape and why he loves what he does.
First off, the basic question I have to ask: What does it feel like to be back on tour “post-COVID?”
It feels good, man. Besides my kids, this is my love, this is my life. I love making people laugh … onstage. I love it, and I’m back at it. It feels good, feels wonderful.
I’ve been here before when I got hit by the truck. (Speaking of the 2014 collision when the minibus he was a passenger in was struck by a Walmart tractor-trailer in New Jersey, leaving him with multiple broken bones) I had to take a year or two off and I missed what I was doing. … COVID was the same thing, so I guess the truck prepared me for this. When we came back, we landed on our feet and kept running.
This isn’t your first time performing in Westhampton. Have you noticed anything unique about your Hamptons audience compared to other New York audiences?
No, no, no, I don’t. Every stage is the same to me, man. I approach it the same way. I don’t look for unique things in people — people laugh. People laugh at what’s funny, what they find funny. I’m not looking for things unique about people, come on. That’s too much. An audience has too many personalities for me to deal with. I bring them into my world. It’s easier for me to bring them into my world. Welcome to the wonderful world of Tracy Morgan.
Fair enough. So throughout your adventures, have you picked up any funny Hamptons stories you have saved for the Westhampton show?
No, no, no, it’s the same thing all around the world. I’m not saving anything for the Hamptons now. Come on, man. Why would I do that? You don’t think people are the same in the Hamptons as they are in California? People are people. A sense of humor is a sense of humor, man, no matter where you at. I don’t look at comedy like that.
With comedians on high alert about being canceled or even slapped if their jokes aren’t received well, do those worries affect your own comedy storytelling?
No, I don’t. Because, man, funny is funny. Canceled? I don’t get down like that. I’m from a different generation, man. Why would I worry about that? I’m 53 years old, so why would I worry about that now? I’ve been doing comedy for almost 30 years, why would I worry about that now? I don’t get involved in that, man.
How much of what the world thinks they know about you is true? Because with stories like 400-pound Murdice, it’s hard to tell truth from satire.
That’s comedy. Nobody knows me. That’s comedy.
Interesting. So even after all you’ve shared over the years, you’re still a man of mystery.
Absolutely, man, only God knows me and what I’ve been through. Only God knows. … Only God knows every footstep I’ve ever taken and every footstep I’m going to take. Only God knows
What do you find most rewarding about being a comedian?
When people laugh, that’s the big payoff for me, when people laugh. People laugh at the truth; they don’t laugh at lies. Lies hurt. When people laugh, that’s the payoff for me — to see a smile and then soon follows laughter. How cool is that? Especially when people ain’t got nothing to laugh about. … I know what God put me on this Earth for — to make you laugh and then to enlighten.
Tracy Morgan will perform at WHBPAC on Saturday, May 14 at 8 p.m. For tickets and more info, visit whbpac.org.