As part of the new workplace comedy, Tracy Morgan and Alec Baldwin bring solid skills and something a little unexpected to “30 Rock,” according to Morgan.
“A lot of why this show works is you have people from all different backgrounds together, and people you might picture together in situations just like at any work situation,” Morgan says. “We all have a chemistry together you might not expect.”
Veteran standup comic Morgan acknowledges his character is drawn at least in part from his own life. “Tracy Jordan is basically Tracy Morgan, except that I wouldn’t run down the street in my underwear,” Morgan says. “But there are parts of my life that are crazier than my character’s life.”
Morgan also is quick to credit his rapport with writer-star Tina Fey and her ability to incorporate ideas from their conversations for the development of his character on the show as well as characters created for “Saturday Night Live.”
“I’ve never edited myself with Tina,” Morgan says. “When we were first working together, I would always just tell her stories from my life, and they would make her laugh and she would work the things I would tell her into what we were doing at ‘Saturday Night Live.’ She just gets my voice.”
The decision to come aboard “30 Rock” was an easy one for Morgan, he says. ” ‘Saturday Night Live’ will always be a very important part of my career,” he adds, regarding the seven seasons he spent on the legendary latenight show. “When Tina came to me with this part and this show, I loved it.”
While Baldwin built a reputation as a dramatic performer in films such as “Glengarry Glen Ross,” he also showed he had considerable comedy chops over the years with repeated turns as a guest host on “Saturday Night Live.” These moments inspired Fey to create Jack Donaghy for Baldwin.
“I wrote the part with Alec in mind,” Fey says, “and I never dreamed that we would really get him. Then, miraculously, we did.”
The character is not based closely on any one person. “I don’t really hang out with a lot of GE executives, so there’s really no way for me to base it on those guys,” Fey says. “It will be interesting to see if some of the guys upstairs think it’s them. No matter who asks, I’m going to say ‘Yes, this is based on you,’ because then they’ll keep watching.”
Regardless of the origin of Donaghy, Fey’s instincts about Baldwin’s comedic gifts clearly have been right. (“I’ve seen Alec be so very, very funny over the years that he hosted ‘SNL,’ ” Fey says. “He has tremendous comedy skill.”)
This year the actor has already taken home the 2007 Golden Globe for best actor in a TV musical or comedy, as well as the 2007 SAG Award for outstanding performance by a male actor in a comedy series, for his “30 Rock” work.
Favorite scene: “Tina Fey and the other writers were so creative and did so many crazy things with my character that I loved everything I did.”
Where you’d like to see your character go next season: “They did so much with the Tracy Jordan character this year that I can’t even imagine what’s going to happen next year; but I can’t wait to find out. Sometimes you walk into a meeting and the writers look at you like they’ve got a big surprise for you. That’s fun — and a little scary.”
TV guilty pleasure: “I love ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter.’ I watch it whenever I get time.”