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Tracy Morgan Talks '30 Rock,' The Burden of Black Comedians & Beating Alcohol Addiction

He’s outrageous, outlandish and often times out of control and now Tracy Morgan is gearing up for Season 6 of the Emmy award-winning sitcom 30 RockOn the mend from a kidney transplant and on the eve of stepping back into character as his alter ego Tracy Jordan, the Brooklyn native got serious and chatted with VIBE to chat about what fuels his zany brand of humor, why some black comedians will never go mainstream, the childhood pain that fuels his comedy and what made him kick his drinking habit for good. —Ronke Idowu Reeves

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VIBE: You’ve described your rise to fame as ‘a path that is least traveled by African Americans.’ Why?

Tracy Morgan: I got my biggest break on NBC. There’s not many of us on there, I don’t mean that in a bad way, but I went thru Saturday Night Live and I think a lot of our people as a whole stopped watching Saturday Night Live when Eddie Murphy left. My fourth year I started to emerge and get notoriety on the show and then when I left there I went to the Tracy Morgan Show. And after the Tracy Morgan Show was canceled I went to 30 Rock and I that’s when I got a wider audience. I’ve been here [in the business] for a minute but it takes time for people to hear and know your voice, especially when you’re in their home.

 

30 Rock creator Tina Fey seemed to be a fan of yours back when you were both on SNL. As head writer she always included you in the funniest skits. And then she hired you to be on 30 Rock.

Tina Fey understands me, we have great chemistry. We don’t do many scenes together on 30 Rock but when we do the whole thing itis magic. Tina was smart enough to know that I’m smart and I know what I am doing. [I can’t give her] all the credit for my career but she was smart enough to know how to use me. She always told everybody, ‘You gotta let Tracy be Tracy.’ She was an absolutely an ally for me on SNL, totally. Tina and Paula Pell used to write me in stuff all the time. I used to just tickle them and it was cool. After The Tracy Morgan Show got canceled I was in a pretty funky place. And when she called me I didn’t know 30 Rock was gonna [makes explosion sound] the way it did, but I’m glad it happened with her. She’s a really cool cat.

 

Do you think you and Tina would ever do a movie together?

Me and Tina Fey? That would be awesome; I mean it’s different worlds. I would love to do something would Tina Fey in a movie that would be so funny, so hilarious. Me and her can play two cops! I’m quite sure we will [collaborate in film] something. One day we will.

 

You’re the type of comedian who seems to do anything, anytime, anywhere for a laugh. Where does your fearless sense of humor come from?

I’ve never been mean-spirited, I’ve always done things just trying to be funny. Some people may look at it weird, but I’ve always done things in the spirit of comedy. Growing up in the world Black, when I first started doing this on TV I wasn’t used to being around white people. So I had my little inferiority complex. My father had white friends in and out the house when I was younger, but most black entertainers never get over that thing, so they never go mainstream. A lot of them can’t just entertain. What stops a lot of black entertainers is the burden of their people. They try to put the burden of their whole people on their backs and then they don’t have the tools. That’s not your job. So I’ve never felt that way. I had elders in my family tell me, ‘That’s not your job. You do comedy. So you do it.’ It’s not black or white when it comes to funny. I’ve always approached it like that. The same things that make black people laugh make white people laugh.

 

 

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HBO Releases 'Leaving Neverland' Trailer And March Premiere Date

Since the reveal of a contentious documentary on Michael Jackson was announced, the conversation surrounding HBO's upcoming project has continued to increase. Now, the powerhouse cable network unveiled the Leaving Neverland trailer which depicts the recollections of two men who were reportedly sexually abused when they were boys by Jackson.

Within the trailer, James Safechuck and Wade Robson discuss certain moments that they held as secrets for decades. "He told me if they ever found out what we were doing, he and I would go to jail for the rest of our lives," Wade says in the visual. The Dan Reed-directed film also features interviews with the two men's families and significant others.

In response to the doc's Sundance premiere, Jackson's family issued a statement calling out the reel's developers. "The creators of this film were not interested in the truth," the family's statement reads. "They never interviewed a single solitary soul who knew Michael except the two perjurers and their families. That is not journalism, and it's not fair, yet the media are perpetuating these stories."

Watch the trailer below ahead of its two-night premiere on March 3-4.

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Don Cheadle as Mo in 'Black Monday,' Episode 4 ("295")
Erin Simkin/SHOWTIME

'Black Monday' Recap: Mo Feels The Weight Of Playing God

Another week, another dive into Black Monday. In this week's episode, “295,” Mo tries to salvage his plan to get the Georgina company’s shares after Blair and Tiffany Georgina’s surprise breakup in the previous episode threw a wrench in that plan. By the end of this week’s episode, Mo gets what he wants but it doesn’t go as planned. Don Cheadle told VIBE that Black Monday was “insane...in a good way,” and this episode shows just that, starting with Mo’s God complex.

Stop Trying To Be God

You need a certain cocktail of self-aggrandization and delusions of grandeur to walk around with a God complex. Mo has that cocktail coursing through his veins. The entire episode revolves around Mo’s attempt to control the actions of humans by placing them in certain situations he is sure will yield his desired results. Only someone blinded by their obsession with being right wouldn’t see having to fix a “foolproof” plan makes him a fool.

The writing expertly showed that when you play God your creation is your reflection, especially in the tense scene at Mo’s dining room table with Blair and Dawn. He turned Blair into a cocaine-addicted party animal to show him how empty life is without having someone you love. Then, in one scene, Dawn exposed how all Mo did was build Blair in his image without realizing that part of his plan was to inadvertently show Blair just how miserable Mo really lives.

Even ostensibly innocuous details carry a huge emotional weight thanks to Black Monday’s writing and Cheadle’s consistently engaging performance. The writers literally had Mo on the outside looking in at forces out of his control at the end of the episode when he’s looking into the bar. It’s at this climactic moment of the show that Mo realizes his own mortality by getting what he wants but missing out on what he knows he needs.

It’s also at this moment that the show’s most boring lead character grew into someone worth watching.

Blair Is Here

For the first three episodes, Blair was as interesting as paint on the wall; always in front of your face but in the back of your mind. Before a single character utters a word in this episode, Blair is chain-smoking cigarettes, snorting coke and dressed like a Saturday Night Fever extra. He died “for a song and a half” and was electroshocked back to life, all in the first minute of the new episode. Blair has finally joined the Black Monday party and the show is better for it.

Mo molding Blair into his image allowed Blair to tap into a new level of confidence.  Blair’s exchange with Dawn about the implicit racism and sexism in 1980s films like Teen Wolf was rewind-worthy hilarious and ends with Blair remarking, “My favorite line from the movie is, ‘I’m not a f*g, I’m a werewolf. Oh, Michael J,” easily one of the funniest 1980s critiques on a show full of them.

The episode also entangled Blair in the show’s first love triangle, ensuring that Blair’s character growth is probably not done. With Blair now being compelling, following Dawn and Keith’s character-defining performances in the previous episode, Black Monday has set up its four most accomplished actors to be able to carry entire story arcs without relying on each other. But, the Black Monday world got bigger than those four in this week’s episode.

The Wall Street Mythology

There’s not enough time in a 30-minute episode to flesh out every character’s backstory and fully formed personality. The most surprisingly funny part of episode “295” was the story arc of Jammer Group traders Keith and Yassir (Yassir Lester) trying to stop Wayne (Horatio Sanz) from completing a “The LaGuardia Spread”. The arc showed that Black Monday has an ingenious way of speeding up character development: mythologize Wall Street.

On Black Monday, “The LaGuardia Spread” is when a trader takes a huge position on a stock, goes to LaGuardia Airport and waits to see if they made a huge profit or debilitating loss. If you guess right, you come home. If you guess wrong, “you don’t come home ever. You get on a plane and you f**king disappear,” according to a frantic Keith. Wayne was nothing more than a bumbling joke punchline of a trader before this episode. In only a few minutes of screentime we find out Wayne slept with his wife’s sister, has some weird dislike for The Howard Stern Show’s weekly guest Jackie Martling, and is so money hungry that he’d be giddy at the news of a mad cows disease epidemic and it’s positive effect on his “LaGuardia Spread” trade.

A similar result happened before on Black Monday. In the series premiere, the Lehman twins (Ken Marino) laid out the Georgina Play, the foundation of Mo’s plans to get all the shares from the Georgina company from Blair after he marries Tiffany. That Wall Street myth led to their grandfather setting himself on fire. That myth also showed that at any moment any person you see on screen become valuable because of what they about know how this fictionalized world works. As long as Black Monday continues to use the inherent absurdity of Wall Street as a machine for character development, this show could begin entering the conversation for one of the best ensemble casts on television.

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Actor Kel Mitchell and actor Kenan Thompson attend the 50th Annual Writers Guild of America Awards on February 21, 1998 at Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd/WireImage)

Kenan Thompson Says Kel Mitchell Will Appear In Revamped 'All That' Series

Pretty much everyone who was a fan of 90s Nickelodeon staple All That was thrilled to hear Kenan Thompson's role of executive producer in the revamped series. Now more great news has arrived as the comedian shared that Kel Michell will also return to the sketch comedy show.

Speaking with Page Six at the Writers Guild Awards Sunday (Feb. 16), Thompson shared his hopes to bridge the gap between the original cast and new members.

“Whoever’s down to [come to] do it, we would love to have them in my opinion,” Thompson said. “I know Kel [Mitchell’s] coming back, and I remember working close [sic] with Josh Server as well. I think all the old cast members should come support the new cast members. That’s just how it should go.”

Before their spinoff Kenan and Kel, the two were golden on All That with skits joint skits like Good Burger and solo characters Pierre Escargot and Repairman.

So far, things seemed to be going Thompson's way. Former All That alum  Danny Tamberelli also told Page Six he was thrilled to hear about the revival.

“I think it’s awesome!” Tamberelli said."All That was a show that reached out to so many kids from all different backgrounds and brought them all together through laughter.”

Tamberelli was apart of seasons four through six and was also one of the main character's on Nick's other enjoyable series, Pete and Pete.

Check out some memorable skits from All That below.

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