A Blaffair To Rememblack

[Book] I Am the New Black by Tracy Morgan (abridged version)

Every story starts at the very beginning, because like that white lady said in The Sound Of Music, it’s a very good place to start. In the 1950s America decided it was a good idea to try and fight Communism in tropical jungles on the other side of the world. The Russians were supposed to be some kind of new Hitler, and if we didn’t get that Communism out of ‘Nam, we’d be eating Kremlin Nuggets in McDonald’s. They had their ideals, and Lenin and Marx were like their Biggie and Tupac. When my dad got on the army transporter headed to Vietnam he sat next to an Irish guy named Tracy and they spent 24 hours talking. A day later and Tracy was dead – stepped on a landmine. And that’s how I got my name. I was sad to hear that story but glad too. Because let’s face it – Tracy Morgan? That’s an Irish female’s name. With a name like that I should have red hair, blue eyes and big titties. I should be in a green bikini on a float every March.

That is the heart and soul of my story. It’s not a very good place to start. You hear me, Julie Andrews? I learned how to become a man from my father. And because of what life had done to him, my father picked up bad habits over the years, just like I picked up bad habits in show business. Show business is my Vietnam and life is the war that I’m fighting.

So I’m strolling with my dad one day and I’m waiting for him to drop some science. “I’m going to show you something,” he said as we walked onto the high school field. He stopped in front of a set of metal bleachers at the side of the field. “You see these, son? This is where I busted a nut inside your mother and made you. I had your mother doggy-style and I gave it to her good too.” Nine months later on November 10 1968, I came into the world.

From an early age I took my humour as far as it could go, and sometimes that took me too far. Like one summer at the public pool, somebody stole my Pumas. I didn’t know who stole them, but I knew that whoever did must love swimming, so the only thing that made sense to me was to shut that pool down. I swam to the middle and took a shit the size of a Milky Way. They shut that place down like the beach in Jaws. I had gotten my revenge, but something else happened that I hadn’t planned on. I liked the feeling of shitting in that pool. This became a problem for me. I started shitting everywhere there was water after that. If I saw an open fire hydrant, I’d shit there. I had no shame, if the water was flowing hard enough, I’d drop the brown shark. This continued for two years, but once I got my first taste of pussy, my focus changed.

At the age of eight, I experienced sex firsthand. My brother Jim was ten and we had a babysitter who gave us both a piece. She was fourteen and while she was in the bath she told my brother to get on top of her. I watched him put his ding-a-ling in her and after that I got on and did the same. I actually cried after that. I remember she gave me a stack of Oreos to keep me quiet. Damn. Memories. From the age of twelve, I always had a piece of pussy around.

My mother was an amazing woman. But by my early teens she had been broken by three men – her father, who was very strict; my father, who let her down and broke her heart with his drug addiction; and Sonny, who was a married man. Sonny wasn’t the straw that broke the camel’s back, but he was the straw that sent it to the chiropractor. Mom just gave up after that point. That’s when I started fighting with her all the time. I moved in with my father and he was like a black General Patton. He made sure we were in the house early every night, and since I was playing sports, it was like I’d enrolled in his personal army. He had me lifting weights, running stairs, and when it came to my grades, he was even tougher on me.

I learned about life in the Bronx; it’s where I learned to get my mack on, how to get my comedy on. My friends and I would have these intense snapping sessions. We’d sit there in the lunchroom just snapping. If anything we were like battle rappers. Like 8 Mile. My comedy style was to elevate my insult by acting it out. It was some next level shit. In my stand-up I used to contour my body and bend it around like a crippled person because I grew up with a crippled person. But that wasn’t enough to make me laugh, so on top of that I’d act retarded. Then it was funny!

My father was diagnosed with AIDS in my senior year and his rapid decline in health altered my path. Once he was gone there was nobody to tell me what I was doing right and wrong. So I thought fuck it. In the end I quit school and I never looked back. After I dropped out, I learned a few lessons right away. The most important one was that in high school, pussy was free. That’s why they call lunch hour at a public school a box lunch. Out in the real world there was one thing that spelled P-U-S-S-Y and that was M-O-N-E-Y, so I turned to dealing drugs. There were parts of selling crack that I really liked. It was great for developing my comedy skills. I took to selling crack like it was an open mic night, and I was pretty good at it. After a year of standing on the corner I realised that I was following the herd – and if you follow the herd, you’re bound to step in shit. For me, the murder of my friend Spoon was a smack in the face.

A man can’t live without a woman. Any straight man will do what he needs to do to get himself some pussy. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the love of a woman. When a woman truly loves a man, he knows it. Pussy is just one part of it. Pussy and ass and titties are the frosting on that cake. A woman possesses the power to transform a man into something better that he would ever be on his own. When they do, that shit is magic.

I met Sabina when we were just kids. The last thing I wanted to do is settle down. Nineteen year old men are like farmers staring down a field of corn at harvest, and their dick is the tractor. Once I met Sabina everything changed. She put up a good fight, but no woman can resist me. Give me enough time and it’s a done deal, as long as she’s got ears, eyes and a pussy. She told me years later that the first time we did it, in a hotel, she’d been impressed that I washed out my drawers in the sink. Sabina made me wait three weeks before she gave me the good stuff. I wanted it so bad, I couldn’t even masturbate. I had three weeks of sperm backed up. And that’s where Tracy Junior came from – my big-ass nuts.

Right across the street from our apartment there was a chicken shop. It was open all night and out front I would get upward of thirty people standing around listening to me make fun of shit. I thought this could be my ticket out of the Bronx. I started rocking things at workshops, and within two weeks I was getting regular spots at clubs and killing there too. There was a hot scene and a guy from Fox decided to develop a show called Uptown Comedy Club. It launched a few careers, namely mine and Chris Tucker’s. I was kinda fat back then, so I used it in my act. Fuck sexy, I bought chubby back. It made me even cuter onstage than I already was. Today my stand-up material is based on observations, but back then I made bits up based on my daydreams, and came up with Fat Michael Jackson. I did all that “hee-hee!” stuff Michael did, and they loved it.

One night on Def Comedy Jam I met Martin Lawrence. He wasn’t my idol, but he was an inspiration to me. From the very first time I met him, I’ve always been able to make Martin laugh and I got a job playing Hustle Man on his sitcom, Martin. Whenever he came to New York, we’d hook up. I’d be the one to pick him up a couple of ravioli bags, if you know what I mean (I’m talking about weed.) After Martin, I went back to doing stand-up full-time, and got an audition for Saturday Night Live. For my audition tape I did some material about when I got arrested. This man my aunt Brenda was dating was beating on her, so I went and found him, and pointed an empty gun at his head. He called the cops and they took me away. I was scared to death, so once I was sitting in the squad car I just started farting. I blew that fucking car up with farts, because the night before I’d had pork and beans and franks. I was farting so much they had to roll the back windows down.

Landing a spot as a cast member on SNL was a gift from God, but staying there was something else altogether. When opportunity knocked, I pulled out the .44 Mag and said “Get in the fucking basement, bitch!” Opportunity’s still down there, ball-gagged and duct-taped up. If you listen hard, you can hear him whimper. I had my finger on the pulse of urban comedy, but when I brought Fat Michael Jackson to SNL, those motherfuckers couldn’t see a future for me. They were all a bunch of Ivy League faggots and I’d taken it to the street. All I have to say about that is where’s Chris Kattan now? That bitch can’t get arrested.

Doors had started to open for me thanks to SNL, but I was no Adam Sandler, so I developed the idea for The Tracy Morgan Show. The formula was perfect: it would be true-life funny, set against the backdrop of a low income family. In the end, the Tracy Morgan Show that aired wasn’t my show anymore. The producers took it out of my hands because they thought the original version would damage my career. They also reminded me they had more experience than I did. It was just like what the Republicans tried to do to Obama during the election.

My wife and my sons were my whole world for my entire adult life. That’s why, even when it was done between Sabina and me, I still didn’t really understand what I was losing. I had let alcohol rule my life and paid the price. I was the kind of drunk who was a completely different man to when he was sober. And the guy I turned into had a name: Chico Divine. Chico was the motherfucker who came out of the depths of my mind and took over my body after about three drinks. When Chico came out, somebody might get hurt and there was a chance somebody’s sister might get pregnant too. One time Chico threw up on the shoes of the lady who was the William Morris Agency’s publicity director.

When I started on 30 Rock, my life on and off camera became strangely similar for a while. I was going out, partying all night and acting crazy, and then showing up to shoot 30 Rock and portray a guy who acted crazy all the time. But I don’t have to be drinking and partying to play somebody like that – it’s called acting. I’m a comedian – everything in my life is material. My comedy today isn’t based on my imagination – it’s all real. It’s like a giant turkey that I cook onstage, keeping it nice and moist by basting it in reality. My success on 30 Rock allowed me to go back and guest host SNL – the pinnacle of my career. There are only twenty-five of us who’ve done that in thirty-four years. I’m up there with the greats – Eddie Murphy, Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Chevy Chase. And Damon Wayans.

One thing that comes with success is money. I’ve always liked exotic pets, and now I can afford to fill my luxury apartment with them. I’ve got a jellyfish tank, tarantulas, eels, snakes, piranhas and sharks. I’m like Michael Jackson! I once asked my wife why she thought Michael Jackson liked to walk around with a fucking diaper-wearing monkey. Know what she said? “Because he’s a genius.” Having a jellyfish makes me a genius.

This point in my life is like the end of the second act. It’s not the end, because I’m far from over. If my life was the Star Wars trilogy, which is really a sixology, we’d just be getting going. Right now, the Ewoks would be dancing.

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