’30 Rock’: Tracy Morgan Improvised Constantly to Keep the Job ‘Fun’

30 Rock might be one of the most underappreciated comedies of its time. Each episode contains layers and layers of references and jokes. The show also features a star-studded cast. Tina Fey and Alec Baldwin starred alongside Tracy Morgan and others. And Morgan in particular was fond of improvising on camera. 

Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell and Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan
Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell and Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan | Ali Goldstein/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Tracy Morgan’s improvisation started early on ’30 Rock’

Morgan apparently loved to improvise on the show. Even though Fey and the rest of the 30 Rock writers would come up with hilarious scripts, Morgan couldn’t help but add his own flair.

The habit started early on in the second episode, and Fey recounted the story for The Paley Center for Media. Morgan, who plays movie star and comedian Tracy Jordan, is discussing all of his various possessions. He says: “I got a yacht. I got a solid gold jet ski, two Batmobiles, the AIDS monkey’s bones …” 

Even though that’s all the writers wrote, it wasn’t enough. Tracy and Liz Lemon (played by Fey) were walking in the scene, and they needed Morgan to keep going until he rounded a corner. So he added some things to the list of outrageous possessions the writers came up with.

According to Fey, his improvised possessions included “the first moped,” “a pair of Rock Hudson’s socks,” and “a pair of Bill Bixby’s glasses from when he used to be your best friend.”

Tracy Morgan and his character both had issues sticking to the script

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Morgan would go on to improvise many of Tracy’s lines throughout the show. His character, interestingly, was also an improviser. There are many jokes about Tracy not reading cue cards for the sketch show within 30 Rock, TGS. There is even a plotline about Liz worrying that Tracy can’t read because he never got his lines right.

Morgan’s co-star Kevin Brown (who plays Dot Com on 30 Rock) jokingly told CNN that Morgan improvised because he didn’t read the script. “He goes off script all the time,” he joked. “He goes off script because he never looked at the script!”

Morgan, however, had a much more wholesome explanation for his improvisation. “I come from a stand-up background and the first three letters in the word funny are fun,” he said. “So I always had fun with it and I guess I made it look easy. I made it look like I wasn’t reading the script.” 

Tracy Morgan is really friends with his ’30 Rock’ entourage 

Morgan had fun with his lines, and he also had fun with his co-stars, which is what made the show work so well.

It was easy for Morgan to have fun with the members of his on-screen entourage because they were all friends in real life. Tracy Jordan is constantly accompanied by his two besties, Grizz and Dot Com. In real life, Grizz Chapman, who plays Grizz, was friends with Morgan before being cast on the show. He told CNN that “what you see on camera — that’s just friends, so that’s why it comes across so well on TV.”

Brown, who played Dot Com, was also close to Morgan before starting on the show. He used to manage the star’s career.

Although Fey may have cast these two actors thanks to their connections to Morgan, they ended up adding a lot of depth to the show. And that’s something that will last.

“I’m very thankful for everything I experienced these seven years, and if I don’t do anything else in TV, you can’t take that away from me,” Chapman told CNN when the show ended. “You can’t take away that Liz Lemon is my boo, you can’t take that away.”