Theater & art

Now the only character Tracy Morgan has to play is himself

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When NBC’s acclaimed sitcom “30 Rock” ended its run a year ago, Tracy Morgan took the chance to throw himself into stand-up again. At the beginning of a 50-city tour, he was trying to find his own voice. The TV work was fruitful for Morgan, who plays the Wilbur Theatre Saturday, but for the first time in years, he didn’t have to be Tracy Jordan from “30 Rock” or any of his “Saturday Night Live” characters.

“I’m still getting in touch with myself,” he says. “That’s a process. As far as stand-up, after you’ve done 14 years of TV, you’ve got to get used to hearing your voice and finding yourself again. I was wrapped up in all those characters for all those years.”

Morgan has used the respite from television to spend time with his family, but he’s also not wasting time getting stand-up projects together. His latest special, “Bona Fide,” premieres on Comedy Central on April 19. And he’ll be working on material during his current tour (which he is calling “The Cisco Kid”) for the next special, which he says he may tape in November. “We’re still trying to find the set,” he says. “We’re just onstage getting material and having fun.” He also has a pilot in the works at FX called “Do Or Die.”


Boston historically has been kind to Morgan. He killed at the Comics Come Home show in November with a high-energy, expletive-filled set, and 20 years ago Boston was the first city he played outside of his native New York as a young stand-up comedian. He recalls performing at the Comedy Connection and having a good time. “I can’t remember anything in detail,” he says. “I’ve had a long career. I just remember being there and having fun and the people just embracing me.”

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Asked how the stand-up culture has changed since that time, Morgan says, “Back then, PC wasn’t so big.” He’s referring to political correctness — specifically, political correctness surrounding sexuality, which he believes is the ultimate taboo. (By comparison, he says he talks about race all the time and even uses racial slurs in his act, and no one has called him out on it.)

Morgan drew heavy criticism in 2011 after a show in Nashville in which he joked that he would react violently if his son were to reveal he was gay.

Though Morgan generally doesn’t shy away from any topic, he apologized after the incident and says he no longer makes jokes about homosexuality. “That’s huge now. People are really sensitive about that,” he says. “That has nothing to do with me. I just don’t know, as far as being funny about that, I don’t know what jokes to make about that so I stay away from it. It’s just not my forte.”

These days, he focuses his act on his own experiences — material that sometimes veers into sexually explicit territory. “I just talk about my life,” he says. “When I apologized about making the gay comment, that was because I guess I hurt people. But that wasn’t my intention. I live and let live, you know? I just talk about me. I got so much messed-up stuff about me, I could talk about me all day.”

Nick A. Zaino III can be reached at