Tracy Morgan, with NBC's "30 Rock" recently wrapping its seven-season run, wants to make something clear. The former "Saturday Night Live" star says he and his "30 Rock" alter ego, Tracy Jordan, who appeared on a fictitious SNL-like sketch show on the primetime comedy series, are not one and the same.
"Only the name," Morgan says of what the two have in common. "Tracy Jordan was a caricature of Tracy Morgan the comedian. "I'm not that outrageous. He made no sense for seven seasons. I'm not like that. I wouldn't have made it this far in life if I was like that."
Morgan, who is appearing at 9 p.m. Saturday, June 22, at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, may further distance himself from the two Tracys by getting right back into the TV game. He's signed to star in a new FX comedy series called "Death Pact," playing a veteran and former high school coach who becomes an unconventional life coach.
Despite the public confusing the spacy, self-centered Jordan with Morgan, who has generated headlines for various controversies in his own life, the comedian says he loved the role on "30 Rock."
"He's my alter-ego," he says of Tracy Jordan. "I wouldn't have played him for seven seasons - I wasn't forced to do that. I do comedy and show business because I love it."
Morgan similarly enjoyed the range of characters he got to create during his seven-year "SNL" run.
Among them were original characters such as Uncle Jemima, African Andy and Astronaut Jones, as well as celebrity impre ssions ranging from Oprah Winfrey and Maya Angelou to Mike Tyson and Mr. T.
"On 'Saturday Night Live,' you got to stretch out that creative muscle a little more," he says.
With stand-up at the root of his career, Morgan is happy to focus more on his own act, for which he has complete creative control.
"I enjoy hearing my voice again," he says. "Me talking about where I come from and who I am and how I perfect that."
But Morgan, who chronicled his difficult childhood in the Tompkins Projects in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in his 2009 memoir, "I Am the New Black," doesn't want audiences to draw easy conclusions about his difficult growing up years and who he is today.
"A lot of times people don't like to think outside the box," he says.
Along those lines, Morgan is concerned about what perceives to be an increasing political correctness about what's acceptable as a comedy topic.
Morgan drew criticism two years ago for making alleged anti-gay comments during a stand up appearance in Nashville.
He apologized for the incident, which was sent up in a 2012 episode of "30 Rock." In "Idiots Are People Two!" Tracy Jordan makes an anti-gay remark, and then unites with the idiots of the world.
Back in the real world, Morgan perceives "a lot of rules now, so people are really uptight."
"A lot of it is being PC now," he continues. "I think the media has made it that way. You're scared to use language and scared to discuss certain things. When I'm on stage and I talk about sex, people get really uptight about it."
Indeed, the headline in the Columbus Dispatch review of Morgan's recent appearance there termed his "sexually graphic routine" as "awkward."
Still, Morgan doesn't let such criticism affect his act or what he wants to share.
"I talk about whatever's good –– I'm a big boy," he says.
Although audiences may think they know him from "30 Rock," "Saturday Night Live," movies such as "The Longest Yard" and voice roles in "G-Force" and "Rio," he says the real Morgan is the one on stage.
"I'd like them to get to know me if they came to my show," he says.
Morgan's return to series TV
Some actors coming off a long sitcom run might not want to jump back in again right way.
Not Tracy Morgan, below, who wrapped "30 Rock" earlier this year and has already signed with FX for a comedy pilot called "Death Pact." The single-camera comedy is being developed by writers Rob Long ("Cheers") and Tad Safran ("The Long Weekend").
"I don't need a break," Morgan says. "I love doing show business. I'll take a break when I rest in peace. I love working."
For Morgan, the opportunity to play an ex-high school coach - and pot dealer - who comes back from fighting in a war to launch a new career as a less-than-conventional self-help guru.
"The opportunity was there, and I liked it," he says. "I read the script, and it's a great character, so why not give it a shot?"
The character "is edgy and funny, and I'm going to love working with the people I'm going to work with," he says.