If you were to stop someone on the street and ask for a flash response to the name Tracy Morgan, they might tell you “crazy.” Maybe “unhinged.” Or even “crazily unhinged.” What you wouldn’t get is any indication that he tears up when talking about his father, or finds the sight of headphones on the street immensely frustrating. But that’s exactly what the crowd gathered at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York last night learned when Morgan stopped by to promote his new memoir, I Am the New Black.
Ostensibly a book reading, the event never quite hit that literary mark. Instead Morgan, dressed in a very normal-looking black V-neck sweater in jeans, reflected on his life with equal parts poignancy and humor. Touching on everything from drug dealing (“I’m just glad I wasn’t very good at it”) to Flavor of Love (“Girls selling their souls for a clock. You’re laughing, but it’s true”), the comedian spoke with candor. When he reached the subject of his father, who died of AIDS complications, Morgan buried his head in his hands. It was an emotional night.
Things got livelier when B&N opened the floor for questions. One attendee asked about surviving in comedy. “Be patient. You hear what I just said? Be patient. Be true. Find common ground. Everyone in this room poops. Use something like that!” The microphone never making its way to me, I wasn’t able to ask him about his favorite song (“Werewolf Bar Mitzvah” or the “Christmas Wishes” track from his holiday album) or what Alec Baldwin should title his memoir. The last question instead fell to a woman who wanted to know if he’d read David Alan Grier’s memoir. “Did I read David Alan Grier’s book? No. MINE’S out.”