There I was was in a room with Tracy Morgan, alternatingly talking about his crash, his hospital stay, the need to love your fellow humans and tossing salad and raw dogging it. Kurt Metzger and Sherrod Small were having a great time, trading quips and laughing at everything he said, but he still kept turning to Keren Margolis and I, off to the side on the couch, every few lines. And there was something familiar in his eyes, a plea that’s common to every comedian worth their salt, one that says “Please love me, please just laugh.”
And this is Tracy Morgan we’re talking about. A man who is universally acknowledged as fucking hilarious. Not “considered” but “acknowledged” because it’s beyond opinion, it’s fact. And then I thought of all the million times I’ve seen that before, always in the Undeniables like Greer Barnes, Joe List, Jay Oakerson, Brody Stevens and Sam Tripoli. The newbies try to hide it with bravado and there’s a certain flavor of comedian who seem genuinely indifferent or even contemptuous of the response they’re getting, but it’s always there to some degree or another in anyone doing this seriously.
But even beyond the fact that I'm a total sucker for needy talented people, Tracy was a clear-as-day, nth degree example of why I really love comedians. He treated the serious and the silly, the profound and profane with a(n ir)reverential equality, because they are all The Truth. He was completely and unabashedly himself the whole time, that mix of vulnerability and foolhardy courage that says, “here’s the insides of me, just as they are.” It’s a default mode of being you don’t find in the average American (except maybe the folks who’ve done a LOT of meditation and therapy.. but their punchlines suck). And you certainly don’t find en masse among an entire social or professional peer group.
And that’s a lot of why I get so pretentious about this art that we’re making. Not because I think a dick joke or even a political joke is making a massive social impact, but I can’t help but think having this tribe of honest clowns roaming the earth is good for everyone. And I know it’s good for me and why I’m so hopelessly, stupidly in love with comedy and comedians. I wouldn’t want to float through this insane and confusing and contradictory world in my meat suit surrounded by any other kind of person. Oh, and because I’m powerless against that look. I will love you, and I’ll definitely laugh.