Former ESPN Sportscenter anchor Dan Patrick once used the phrase, "You can't stop him; you can only hope to contain him." He might have used the expression to describe any number of dominant elite athletes, but it could just as easily be used to describe Tracy Morgan.
Once you put this stand-up comic and actor in front of a microphone or a camera, the guy just takes over. Resistance is futile. His larger-than-life personality made him a breakout cast member during his time on Saturday Night Live and a scene-stealing ensemble actor who earned his first Emmy nomination as the out-of-control Tracy Jordan on Tina Fey's award-winning NBC sitcom 30 Rock.
But seeing him as a stand-up comedian is to see Morgan in his purest form. He brings his "Excuse My French Tour" to Comedy Off Broadway in Lexington for six shows this week.
Morgan became a household name thanks to SNL, 30 Rock and appearances in the 2008 comedy First Sunday and the 2010 films Cop Out and Death at a Funeral, but he never stopped doing stand-up comedy. The comedian, who grew up in the projects in Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., has earned a reputation with material that's at times autobiographical and anything but politically correct.
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"A lot of (this material) is new. A lot of it is my experiences in life, good, bad and ugly," Morgan said. "I just try to inject my sense of humor into it."
Regarding the new material, it wouldn't be a Tracy Morgan show if he didn't touch on sex — often in extremely graphic detail. Audience members have occasionally taken to the Internet to express displeasure with what comes out of Morgan's mouth, but the 45-year-old father of four said he addresses sex in his stand-up because it's what he knows.
"That's the only thing black people have to make them feel good, is music, money and sex," Morgan said about his rough upbringing. "Even if I talk about sex, I'm damn funny. I just want to make people laugh."
More people have been able to see Morgan's brand of stand-up comedy thanks to his first-ever HBO comedy special, 2010's Black and Blue, but his material can't help but ruffle feathers once in a while. This has made its way into his routine and has become a frequent topic of conversation on which he certainly has a strong opinion.
"Everybody can't be Seinfeld. Everybody can't be Ray Romano," he said. "People are super-sensitive. If you don't like comedy, stay at home and make it a Blockbuster night."
Morgan has more on his plate now than his stand-up act. A Comedy Central special is due to come out April, and he is scheduled to appear again on the small screen next year, starring in the new FX series Death Pact. He said he also will be in an upcoming film called The King. Whatever Morgan touches, he is confident that laughs will follow.
"I don't talk about comedy. I'm doing it," he said. "I might not be a great husband, I might not be a great fiancé, I may not be a great whatever, but I know I'm funny."
IF YOU GO
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 19; 8 and 10:30 p.m. Dec. 20; 8:30 and 11 p.m. Dec. 21; 7:15 p.m. Dec. 22
Where: Comedy Off Broadway, The Mall at Lexington Green, 161 Lexington Green Cir.
Tickets: $35. Available at (859) 271-5653 or Comedyoffbroadway.com.