“I partied like a rock star, but now I’m chillin’ out,” he adds. “People have a perception of me. They think I’m crazy. Do I seem mental?” I say no, he seems sane, if a little depressed. “You’re right,” he says. “I’m a sad clown.” All pretense of humor vanishes. Sensing my interest, he quickly changes gears, his mouth creasing into a broad smile. “Know how you can tell it’s a good interview? You ain’t say nothing!” A minute later, before I can wish him luck with his Lasik recovery, he’s gone.
I meet Morgan again at an early-morning 30 Rock rehearsal at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City. He says the structure of the daily filming schedule helps his mental state, and he is in better spirits, helped, it seems, by having just broken up with a girlfriend. “I ain’t drinking, I’m having fun, and I can date anyone I want,” he tells me. When we get up to the studio, he introduces me to Tina Fey—“Tina! This here’s the reporter from the New York Times.” New York Magazine, I correct him. Fey smiles politely and excuses herself. The cast begins filming a scene for the Christmas episode, in which Fey, as her own alter ego, Liz Lemon, informs the writers that she has a Christmas surprise. Morgan’s follow-up line, “Colorful sweaters?,” is shot over a few takes. First, the director instructs Morgan to say it disappointedly. “Colorful sweaters?” Morgan sighs. Then he’s asked to say it excitedly—“Colorful sweaters?” he intones brightly— then to add a little more Tracy to it. “Motherfucking colorful sweaters?” Morgan deadpans. Everyone laughs. The take is clearly unusable, but Morgan looks satisfied. It’s what he lives for, cracking up an audience.
During a break he says, “When I met with you before, everything seemed really dark. But I got people who care about me, and I’m getting to a place where I got some wisdom. I’m 40!” At this point in his life, I ask him, who is he? His expression is blank before his eyes narrow flirtatiously. “You just can’t get enough of me, can you?” he says. Then he’s off to finish filming.