Three years into 30 Rock, it’d now seem abundantly clear that Tracy Morgan was a criminally under-appreciated, under-utilized, under-understood talent on SNL (and hasn’t that been the case with all Black cast members since Eddie Murphy?). But even with all the momentum Tracy took to SNL as last week’s host (and despite the triumphant return of his sassy, ADD-ridden persona, Brian Fellows), shit just wasn’t that funny. Which’d make the nonbelievers wonder if Tracy’s only good when he’s being himself, or half his self, as he put it to Jimmy Fallon, last week. Or else, they chalk it up to Tracy’s alleged use of performance-enhancing substances. Just look up “Tracy Morgan Wasted” on youtube (exhibits 1, 2, 3), and you’ll uncover the paper trail of a Barry Bonds-inspired character assassination.
You can’t deadpan that well when you’re drunk, man; Tracy’s just pulling the old Dean Martin routine.
But what most folks don’t know is that before Tracy was batting for Lorne Michaels, and long before he became “the face of post-racial America,” he was hustling on one of the greatest sitcoms of the early 90s (and the only sitcom, I can think of, that took place in the D). Here he is, picking up the pieces on Martin, fifteen years before he got the whole country watching. Prepare to have your mind grapes crushed.