‘I Don’t Need a Birthday, ‘Cause I Buy Myself All the Presents I Need’: 55 Trivia Tidbits About Tracy Morgan on His 55th Birthday

From ‘angry boy’ to ‘beautiful Black butterfly,’ Morgan’s journey is worth revisiting
‘I Don’t Need a Birthday, ‘Cause I Buy Myself All the Presents I Need’: 55 Trivia Tidbits About Tracy Morgan on His 55th Birthday

American actor, comedian and author Tracy Jamal Morgan, the legend who’s given us characters like Hustle Man, Brian Fellows, and his satirized self, Tracy Jordan, celebrates his 55th birthday today. The New York funny man has come a long way, and to honor him, we’re diving into a list of trivia about the funny guy from Brooklyn who likes to call himself the Black Bon Jovi and once almost lost a foot. Happy birthday, Tracy. Please take care of your appendages...

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Brooklyn Born

Morgan was born and raised in Brooklyn — more specifically, in a housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. 

Absent Dad

“My dad left the family when I was 6,” Morgan told People, adding that “it devastated all of us, but I took it the hardest. That’s why I’m funny. It’s a defense mechanism.”

Losing Dad Twice

At the age of 13, Morgan moved back in with his father, James Morgan, who lived in the Bronx. At 15, he learned that his dad had contracted HIV through his heroin addiction. Two years later, it all came to an end. “He had to take care of his father,” Sabina, Morgan’s late and former wife, told People. “So he had to drop out of high school.”

Starting Out Young

Morgan married Sabina when he was just 17 (the year his dad passed away) and started doing comedy “on the streets” to make ends meet. “I was hustling,” he explained. “I would do a fat Michael Jackson from the projects. I was just working on pure imagination.”

It Could’ve Gone Bad

“I did some things I’m not proud of,” Morgan said of his formative years. “I tried my little hand at drug dealing, but that wasn’t me.” 

Discovered at the Apollo

Morgan was first discovered at the Apollo Theater on Amateur Night. Watch his performance below.

On ‘Jonesing’

Morgan remembers how his dad, a Vietnam veteran, taught him about comedy through “jonesing” — basically roasting people. “One day he sat me on his lap and made me jones on somebody, and that was my very first joke,” Morgan explained to Entertainment Weekly. “It was something about somebody’s mom. Dude’s name was Boo-Boo — God bless the dead.”

What Finally Got Him to Do Comedy

Morgan told NPR that he didn’t fully commit to comedy until his best friend was murdered. “He would say to me, ‘Yo, Tracy, man, you should be doing comedy,’” Morgan recalled. “A week later, he was murdered. And that, for me, that was like my Vietnam. I had my survival guilt when I started to achieve success. Why I made it out and some guys didn’t.”

Getting to Work with Bruce Willis

“He’s a real cool dude, man, down to earth,” Morgan said during an interview about their movie Cop Out. “And just going to work every day and telling my friends and my family that I’m working with Bruce Willis was the coolest thing. They didn’t believe it, but now there’s billboards all over the place with me and Bruce like this. That’s self-explanatory, dude. I don’t really have the words to express how — it’s Bruce Willis. I didn’t get a chance to work with Bruce Lee. Bruce Willis, right next to Bruce Lee, baby, you know what I’m sayin’?”

On His Influences

During an interview with Uproxx in 2014, Morgan shared, “My uncles were very funny. All my uncles were funny. I come from a very funny family. But then, when I got older, I got introduced to the works of Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy and George Carlin. And Bill Cosby — I can’t forget Bill Cosby. But also, I’m the biggest Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball fan ever. So, seeing all of these people talking about the things they were talking about and being funny at the same time it just really inspired me to try to go for it. Growing up in high school, I was always a funny guy, and people were asking me to be funny, so here I am.”

Also, Martin Lawrence

Morgan also said that watching Martin Lawrence host Def Comedy Jam was a pivotal point for him: “That was a real source of inspiration, besides my dad. I didn’t particularly really want to do stand-up until I saw Def Jam, but I always wanted to be funny like my dad.”

His Multimillion-Dollar Settlement with Walmart

In 2014, Morgan and his friend and fellow comic James McNair were involved in a highway accident after a Walmart truck plowed into them. McNair died, while Morgan suffered a traumatic brain injury. He sued the megacorp and won a ton of money.

And Then He Built a House

Morgan built a house in New Jersey with his settlement cash.

He Has Pet Sharks

In 2010, Rolling Stone first reported on Morgan’s massive love for sharks (and other aquatic animals) when visiting his home and seeing his $30,000 glass aquarium that housed a bandit shark and a nurse shark. “These animals live here on this Earth with us, and most people don’t even know it,” Morgan told the magazine. “When I don’t want to watch the fucking idiot box (TV), I just look at their world. Whole lot of shit going on in there.”

He’s since got a fish tank on Animal Planet’s Tanked, and in 2022, it came to light that Morgan now has 14 or 15 sharks in a tank in his backyard — mostly for his daughter, Maven, who wants to become a marine biologist and can now study these apex predators in her own time.

Lobster For Dinner, Every Day

Not for Morgan and his family but for his sharks. Every day.

The Annual Halloween Haunted House

Morgan turns his basement into a haunted house every Halloween to entertain Maven and her friends. “It’s very scary down there. I don’t go down there,” he told Ellen DeGeneres. “You got It the clown, and his eyes are lighting up, and I’m like, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa.’ So, I go down every morning to work out in my gym with my trainer, then I’m upstairs.”

He’s Very Close to His Daughter

“She’s very close to me. We’re very close. That’s my baby,” Morgan said on Today in his first interview following the Walmart accident. “She was 10 months old when I got hit by the truck. So, people don’t just come out of comas — I had to fight. I knew I had to be here for her. I wanted to see my daughter. I’ve always wanted a daughter. I have a female version of me, and I’m looking at her every day as she grows under my gaze. And I love her.”

The ‘SNL’ Question He Gets Asked the Most (By Fans)

Apparently, folks keep asking Morgan whether his SNL character, Brian Fellows, is gay, to which he replies, “No, he’s ambiguous.” He does, however, add that “little do people know, Brian Fellows has a wife and three kids.”

His Younger Alter Ego

Before he got older and became a family man, Morgan would go hang out at nightclubs and, after a few drinks, turn into who he calls Chico Divine. “I love Chico,” Morgan told Rolling Stone. “He is the coolest dude; he would never hurt anybody. Chico never shot at the cops. Chico never fought. The most Chico ever did was throw up in Club Suede.”

Prince Once Kicked Chico Out

Morgan may have loved Chico, but not everyone else did. Prince once kicked Morgan/Chico out of his house following a pre-Grammy party, and the comedian’s alter ego drinking habits got him a couple of DUIs over the years. It all came to a head when, in 2007, the police ordered Morgan to wear an ankle bracelet that would monitor his alcohol intake. “That embarrassed me,” he said in the same interview. “My oldest son looked at me like I was a jerk.” 

He Almost Lost His Foot

That ankle monitor caused an infection that got so bad that Morgan almost had to have his foot amputated. 

Son Stepping In

“I’m walking around with a bracelet on my ankle and my (youngest) son (Tracy Morgan Jr.) looking at me like I’m Kunta Kinte, like, ‘What you doing, dad? What if I start driving and drinking? Would that be cool?’ And that was it for me. That was the end of it,” Morgan said.

On His First Marriage

It was during the time of Chico Divine that Morgan’s first marriage fell apart. “I didn’t know which way was up,” he admitted. “I lost a 21-year marriage. Who does that? I was a real dick.”

Dream Come True

In 2017, Morgan told Jimmy Kimmel that it would be a dream come true to do something with Eddie Murphy one day. “I remember, when he was on your show, he did an impression of me,” Morgan added. “When Eddie Murphy does an impression of you, it’s like Michael Jackson writing a song just for you. So that was an honor for me because I love him so much.”

The two would eventually star alongside each other in the 2021 sequel Coming 2 America. 

On Doing ‘Coming 2 America’

In a virtual appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Morgan revealed that he connected with the first Coming to America since the movie was released shortly after his father’s passing. “My father loved Eddie Murphy and Arsenio (Hall),” he explained. “So it was nostalgia for me when I saw (the movie). I was like, Wait a minute, that’s something that me and my dad loved,’” he said, referring to the two legendary comedians. “And now, to be sitting here 30-something years later, to be in (the sequel), my dad is smiling down. He’s singing.”

subtitle]His Stance on Political Jokes

“I don’t do political jokes. I’m not into politics, man,” he told GQ when asked about his thoughts on it. “I never voted one day in my life. I’m down with the king. God is still on the throne. I don’t care about no fucking politics. Politicians always make promises to the people that they don’t keep.”

He’s Diabetic

Morgan was diagnosed with diabetes in the 1990s.

When People Call Him Tracy Jordan

“When they call me Tracy Jordan,” he said in the same interview, “I say, ‘My name is Tracy Morgan.’ My parents didn’t name me Jordan. I only respond to Tracy Morgan. They don’t know me. They know the character. Those characters have been in their house for years. I understand. I just don’t respond.”

On What Scares Him (But That He Still Wants to Do)

“I love drama. I’d love the opportunity to do dramatic roles,” he told GQ. “But I’m affiliated with funny. People made millions of dollars off my funny. But there’s another side to me. A dramatic role — I would love to do that.”

On Relating with His Character in ‘The Last O.G.’

“My character in The Last O.G. is like me because he got a second chance at life,” Morgan once told AARP. “He was in jail for 15 years for selling crack. He’s not like me because I’m not out selling crack, but he’s like me because he’s doing it for his family.”

He’s Been Trying to Lose Weight

And has succeeded, thanks to a Type-2 diabetes drug. “That’s how this weight got lost,” he said on Today with Hoda & Jenna in August of this year. “I went and got a prescription, and I got Ozempic. It cuts my appetite in half. Now I only eat half a bag of Doritos,” he joked.

His Michael Jackson Replica Jacket

“My boy Leo Velazquez made it for me from scratch,” Morgan said about his MJ replica jacket for Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour NYC premiere in 2012. “There’s over 200,000 Swarovski crystals on it. I loved the jacket ever since he wore it to his 30th-anniversary concert. It was the day before 9/11, and he walked into Madison Square Garden with Liz Taylor, and I fell in love with it and said, ‘One day, I’m going to get that jacket.’ So, we first tried to track it down. And when we couldn’t purchase it or receive it, I decided I was going to have it made. I told Leo Velazquez — a young designer who’s awesome and designs clothes for Usher and everything — what I wanted to do. He thought it was going to be a simple thing. He said, ‘I can have it done in three weeks.’ I said, ‘You sure about that?’ Before you know it, it was three months. He unveiled it to me, and it was an awesome jacket.”

He Quit ‘SNL’

After giving the show seven seasons of his life, Morgan quit SNL to go on and do The Tracy Morgan Show.

He Almost Quit ‘SNL’ Earlier

It wasn’t smooth sailing when Morgan started out at SNL, and while a lot of his fellow cast members didn’t have home lives, he had kids at home who needed him. On top of that, the show’s white “Ivy League” environment wasn’t accommodating him much, either. “I wasn’t getting on any skits, and I didn’t feel a part of the show,” Morgan said during the Rolling Stone interview. “I was basically the only Black dude there besides Tim Mead­ows. And Lorne Michaels brought me back into his office one night at about four in the morning, and he said, ‘Tracy, you’re not here because you’re Black. You’re here because you’re funny.’ I never for­got that,” he said, tearing up, “‘I’m here because I’m funny.’

Doing ‘Rio 2’ for His Daughter

“That movie was dedicated to my daughter,” he told Uproxx about voicing Luis the bulldog in Rio 2. “She gets to see daddy in it at that point of his life and career. So it’s fun for her. She loved all the colors, and she loved the music and daddy’s in it, so she loved it.”

On Doing Voice Over Work

“It’s definitely a challenge,” he continued. “You’re not getting any energy coming back to you, so you have to use your imagination. So, I got to use my imagination. When I was young and first starting out in show business and in comedy, a lot of my material was based on my imagination. As I matured and got older, a lot of it became based on my observations, things that I see every day. So, a lot of my stand-up now is more mature. It’s much more informed. It’s based more on my experiences and my life.”

His Killer Golden Globes Speech

When 30 Rock won Best Comedy in 2009, Morgan gave the acceptance speech, kicking it off with: “Tina Fey and I had an agreement that if Barack Obama won, I would speak for the show from now on. Welcome to post-racial America! I am the face of post-racial America. Deal with it, Cate Blanchett!” 

His Earliest Childhood Memory

“I was four years old, in the park in my neighborhood in Tompkins,” he remembers. “I was with my father, who was telling jokes and snapping on all the guys on the basketball court. And he told me one to say about somebody’s mother, and everybody laughed.”

Walk of Fame

In 2016, Morgan received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Of course, he did not refrain from delivering yet another hilarious speech.

Origin of His Name

Morgan’s dad named him Tracy after a fellow platoon soldier who was killed in action just days after they were shipped to Vietnam.

Biggest Comedy Central Stand-Up

Morgan’s 2014 Comedy Central stand-up special, Tracy Morgan: Bona Fide, brought in the largest audience for the network’s stand-up specials that year.

Sketch Comedy to the Rescue

Following his accident, Morgan watched a lot of Key & Peele sketches during his rehabilitation.

How He Came Up with ‘The Last O.G.’

It was during his recovery that Morgan decided he wanted to work with Jordan Peele. He phoned Peele, and they came up with the idea for The Last O.G.

Old-School Inspiration

Morgan told Peele that, for The Last O.G., he wanted to play a character reminiscent of Jackie Gleason’s Ralph Kramden in The Honeymooners.

Nominated for ‘SNL’

In 2016, Morgan was nominated for an Emmy Award for hosting SNL.

Not Afraid to Cry

“He has a sensitive side,” his first wife said during the People interview. “He cries a lot. He cries at movies we watch.” When his high school surprised him with an honorary diploma, “he cried like a baby.”

Not Too Happy With ‘The Tracy Morgan Show’

In his memoirI Am the New Black, Morgan wrote that with The Tracy Morgan Show, he “wanted to tell a story about the ghetto,” but that the show’s creators (David M. Israel and Jim O’Doherty) “turned it into a false idea of what it’s like to be a Black family” like a “modernized Cosby Show.”

On That Homophobic Joke

In 2011, Morgan got into hot water for claiming that “gay was something kids learn from the media and programming” and making a hateful and violent joke saying that he would “stab his son to death if he said he was gay.” He apologized for it after rightfully being called out and has since iterated his support for the LGBTQ+ community: “In my heart, I really don’t care who you love, same sex or not, as long as you have the ability to love, that’s the important thing here.”

His Other Big Serious Health Concern

Morgan had a kidney transplant in 2010.

Working with Jimmy Fallon

“Laughing and all that dumb shit he used to do — he wouldn’t mess with me because I didn’t fucking play that shit,” Morgan told Penthouse back in 2007. “That’s taking all the attention off of everybody else and putting it on you, like, ‘Oh, look at me, I’m the cute one.’ I told him not to do that shit in my sketches, so he never did.”

His Comedy Post-Accident

“My comedy got sharper after the accident,” he told AARP in 2018. “I see more clearly now. I see the jokes, and I see the wisdom. Comedy is tragedy turned inside out like a sock. Same thing that makes you laugh makes you cry. It all depends on how you look at it.”

From Angry Boy to Butterfly

“That little 17-year-old boy — he’s grown up,” Morgan said during the NPR interview. “He’s a man now. And when I was angry, when I was younger, I was in a cocoon. Now I’m a beautiful Black butterfly.”

His Favorite Meal to Cook

“Cowboy food,” Morgan told the African American Literature Book Club. “Pork and beans, and franks.”

How He Wants to Be Remembered

“As a funny motherfucker. ‘Here lies a funny motherfucker.’ That’s it. That’s what I want on my tombstone,” he said in the same African American Literature Book Club interview.

His Favorite Sex Song

“Luther Vandross’ ‘A House Is Not A Home,’” he once told Uproxx. “I make babies with that one.” Now you know.

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