Tracy Morgan has never been known to hold back.
The stand-up comic has drawn criticism for his untamed brand of comedy, but Morgan believes oversensitivity is becoming a problem in the comedy industry.
"Stand-up has been around forever, you know," he said, describing critics as "people being preachy and trying to dictate what you can and cannot say — and I think that's crap."
Morgan is bringing his act, and his outlook, this weekend to Magooby's Joke House.
"I just want [audiences] to relate to my experiences — in funny ways, in sad ways," he said. "I just want to take people on a rollercoaster. That's what I got when Richard [Pryor] did it, so that was the blueprint."
Morgan grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn (he says he can relate to Baltimore through his hardscrabble background), and he uses his experiences in his comedy acts to identify with his audiences.
"That's one thing my great-grandma used to tell me: 'Boy, don't forget where you come from.' That's what I do in my stand-up — making fun of the hills and the valleys," he said.
Morgan emphasizes the importance of connecting with audiences, as he feels people often have misconceptions about him. Morgan takes offense to people defining him by as Tracy Jordan on "30 Rock" and roles such as "Safari Planet" host Brian Fellow on "Saturday Night Live."
"All the public knows is what they see on TV," he said. "They don't know me — they know Brian Fellow; they know Tracy Jordan."
While he explained that previous projects were important to him, he describes himself as a "forward-thinking man."
"[Tracy Jordan]'s not the center of my career," he said of the role that garnered him an Emmy nomination in 2009.
"30 Rock" concluded in January and earned an Emmy nomination for outstanding comedy series for its final season.
"My TV show was nominated for another Emmy?" joked Morgan. "We've been off the air since [January] and still get nominated— how cool is that?"
The Emmys, on Sept. 22, will not be bittersweet for him and his castmates, he said.
"We did a great seven seasons on TV," said Morgan. "We were happy about that. We were proud about that. The only thing that was sad was we were working with the people that we worked with for years."
Morgan already has a new FX comedy series in development called "Death Pact," where he plays a motivational speaker with extreme tactics.
In his stand-up work, Morgan describes his brand of comedy as "real" and refuses to limit the subjects of his jokes, taking inspiration from "comedy gods" like Pryor, Jackie Gleason and George Carlin.
However, Morgan's boundlessness came under fire in 2011 when a stand-up show in Nashville included jokes about homosexuality, in which he allegedly said if his son was gay and spoke in a high-pitched voice, he would "stab that little n----- to death." The incident and media outcry were later mocked in an episode of "30 Rock."
Morgan apologized for his remarks and maintains that his comedy is not mean-spirited, but he still insists that the landscape of comedy has changed from a simpler, less scandal-ridden time.
"We had shows like Archie Bunker and George Jefferson where we made fun of our bigotries," he said. "But now everybody's so PC and super sensitive that you can't even say that," adding that he finds it hypocritical with "drones flying over your own people" and limits on privacy.
Despite his loud, arresting persona, Morgan wants his audiences to have a good time, even if the topics in his act come from an unexpected place.
"Some comedy is tragic, but you've got to find funny in it," he said. "Real life inspires me."
Morgan, above all, feels it is important for his comedy to be honest because he wants his audiences to identify with and relate to him.
"If it's the truth, I don't have to defend myself," he said.
If you go
Tracy Morgan performs Thursday through Saturday at Magooby's Joke House, 9603 Deereco Road, Timonium. The doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $50. Call 410-252-2727 or go to magoobys.com.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun