Some of Tracy Morgan’s best humor has come from bits that take advantage of his towering weirdness while not being overwhelmed by it. But listening to Terri Gross’s cringe-inducing interview with him underscored an essential, unsettling part of the experience of watching dude perform: he may actually be in need of serious help. At several points, he breaks down crying without much provocation* (a similar thing happened at a book-reading in NYC last week), and he generally comes across like a wounded, defensive child.
Part of me thinks there’s an element of cynicism in what Terri Gross called his “wild card” persona; maybe all the crazy disrobing on TV was intentional, just as his recent public lachrymosity is part of a concerted effort to roll some of that back and be Taken Seriously. And while he gets some of the choicest lines on “30 Rock,” the running gag is that the possibly insane Tracy Jordan is enabled by producers and writers because he’s good for their bottom line. One wonders if the real-life Tracy Morgan is even in on the joke.
*Granted, he’s talking about some rough subject matter, but in doing a press tour for a biography, it seems like he would have girded himself for the very good chance that his rough childhood may have come up.