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Who is the real Tracy Morgan?



Published: Thu, February 9, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Tracy Morgan was in the news — both locally and nationally — last week when the story about his poor relationship with his mother came to light.

Alicia Warden, the comedian-actor’s mother, lives in a run-down area of Youngstown’s South Side and is facing possible foreclosure because she has been out of work for almost a year. She and her famous son have been estranged for at least a decade, but she asked him for help out of desperation.

The response she got — an offer of a one-time gift of $2,000 — left her feeling cold and hurt. Morgan, who is worth something like $18 million, had his accountant make the offer in a phone call.

Morgan is a regular on NBC sitcom “30 Rock,” where he plays a narcissistic yet way-out flake. It’s the type of character he has been known for since his days on “Saturday Night Live.”

But who is the real Tracy Morgan? The answer is elusive, because Morgan is always seen in character.

Or is he?

Dave Robich, owner of the Funny Farm comedy club in Liberty (and now Boardman), isn’t so sure that personality is an act.

Robich met Morgan in 2003 when he played at The Funny Farm. “What stuck with me is, that TV character you see, that strange, out-there character, you think he’s playing a role,” said Robich. “But I don’t think he is. I think he really is out there.”

Kevin Brown, a comedian who plays an assistant to Morgan’s character on “30 Rock,” said pretty much the same thing, according to Robich. Brown was at The Funny Farm on New Year’s Eve.

But other than being a little offbeat, Robich said Morgan was cool during that 2003 visit. “He didn’t seem nasty or mean at all,” said Robich. “He was jovial and lighthearted. He wasn’t one of those comedians with a public persona but who is real difficult and demanding behind the scenes.”

Funny Farm is catching on at new Boardman location

Folks who go to Robich’s Funny Farm know that the club recently moved out of its old room in the Metroplex Hotel in Liberty, and is now holding shows at the banquet room of Los Gallos restaurant in Boardman on Fridays and the Quality Inn in Liberty on Saturdays.

The Los Gallos room has been getting big crowds, and it looks like it’s going to be a long-term success. “The energy in the room is so good,” said Robich. “It looks like a comedy club.” The familiar black curtain and neon Funny Farm stage have been put up behind the stage, and the room’s lighting and sound add to the atmosphere.

“There is something about that room that is fun, like the Metroplex room in its heyday,” said Robich.

An extra Saturday show might be added to the Los Gallos site in the near future, but Robich said he also will keep the Quality Inn site to serve his patrons who are used to going to Liberty.

This weekend, Detroit comedian Steve Iott, who is known for his dry but smart humor, will be at both sites. Call 330-759-4242 for reservations.

HUBBARD HISTORY AT MUSEUM

Back in 1914, Charles G. McBride lived at 27 Hager St. in Hubbard (which is the present home of the Hubbard Historical Society), and ran a jewelry store on North Main Street.

Advertisements from his store, and other artifacts from Hubbard’s past, contained in the collection of Eric Halliday, will be on display at the Historical Society’s McBride House from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Halliday was vice president of the HHS in 1990.


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