'30 Rock' and SNL alum drops in

Tracy Morgan
By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

Tracy Morgan has done it all movies, television and stand-up but he doesn't have a favorite.

"I love it, " he told Reminder Publications. "It's all show business."

Morgan is a busy performer. He currently co-stars in the NBC sitcom "30 Rock" and was recently seen in the films "Little Man" and "Totally Awesome." He also has provided voices for the up-coming film "Farce of the Penguins" and for the MTV series "Where My Dogs At."

He will be coming to the Comedy Connection at the Hu Ke Lau in Chicopee at 7 p.m. on Jan. 20.

He appeared on "Saturday Night Live" (SNL) from 1996 to 2003 when he left to star in his own sit-com.

During his long stint on SNL, Morgan became well known for character that included "Brian Fellow, the host of "Safari Planet," and space adventurer "Astronaut Jones" as well as impersonating people such as Mike Tyson, Busta Rhymes, Maya Angelou and Samuel L. Jackson.

Acting on "30 Rock" is a change for Morgan after years of appearing before a live audience. He explained the show is filmed with a single camera, like a movie, and that a person has to have confidence in what they are doing since there is no audience to affirm whether or not they are being funny.

The new assignment has meant a shift in his schedule: no more late nights.

Unlike many stand-up comedians who have a love-hate relationship with television, Morgan said he loves it.

"It's a personal medium," he explained. "You can reach out and touch people."

He was an active writer on SNL, and still has a hand in what happens to his character on "30 Rock."

"I helped develop the character," he said. "I let the writers know what he's thinking and who he is."

"30 Rock" is about the back-stage happenings at a SNL-like television show. His character, also named "Tracy," is a star on the fictional show.

"The guy's unstable," Morgan said. "He's an international superstar and a sweetheart, but when he's off his meds he's 'coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.'"

Morgan said he has known some people like his character, but didn't base him on anyone specific.

Morgan said that comedy was part of his childhood.

"My uncle, father and all of my mother's family were funny," he said.

Growing up his comic heroes included Jackie Gleason, Redd Foxx, Lucile Ball and Carol Burnett. Martin Lawrence was also an influence on him as well as Chris Rock and Adam Sadler.

What's it like working with the people one admires?

"One word explains it: heaven," Morgan replied.