While we always thought he was funny on Saturday Night Live, over the past few years, it feels like Tracy Morgan has really come into his own. His 30 Rock character Tracy Jordan — a very loose parody of himself — is arguably one of the most hilarious parts of what we consider the best comedy on television. And unlike some comedians who seem to have no personality when they’re not inhabiting a role, he’s able to maintain that same over-the-top charm that makes us love him in interviews and public appearances, as well. As today is Tracy’s 42nd birthday, we thought we’d celebrate his career by telling you 42 things you didn’t know about him before. Enjoy!
1. Tracy was born in Queens, but grew up in the Bronx and Bed-Stuy.
2. His father, Jimmy Morgan, Sr., was a musician who left the family when Tracy was just six. He died of AIDS in 1987 — a result of his heroin use.
3. Tracy went to middle school in Brooklyn. He got on the subway at 7 am to commute from his father’s house in the Bronx. “It was hard,” he has said. “I was like a young Harriet Tubman.”
4. Tracy attended De Witt Clinton High School in the Bronx, but did not graduate. “I’m glad I dropped out of high school, man. I wouldn’t be where I’m at. I would have had a net. I’m glad I didn’t have anything to fall back on, man, because that made me go for my dreams that much harder,” he has said.
5. Before he began his career in stand-up, Tracy worked as a painter for L&L Painting and Rose Company.
6. According to Tracy, “When I said I was gonna be a comedian, my mom said, ‘Motherfucker, you better go down to UPS — they hiring.’”
7. He names Redd Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Andrew Dice Clay among his early comedic influences. “I like saying ‘mother-fucker’ without curbing it. You get your point across when you say ‘motherfucker.’ It’s simple — it’s just an exclamation point,” he has said.