The first time I got to see The Last O.G. was at South By South West Film Festival last month. Sworn to secrecy, attendees to the screening at Austin’s Paramount Theater roared with approval and exploded with laughter at Tracy Morgan’s return to television. Morgan, who famously made his debut on television as Hustle Man on the classic comedy Martin, has been having been truly been living his best life since being severely injured in a tragic car accident so severe it was believed there was a possibility Morgan would never walk again, including Tracy himself.
“This is incredible. To see the response that we got is awesome. It was awesome! That’s what I do it for, that sound y’all make. That ‘ha ha’, that’s what I do it for. And I really, really want to do a great job. It means a lot to me because of the accident and all that,” said Morgan.
“After the accident, where I got a second chance at life and everything, part of my healing process while I was in the hospital not knowing if I was going to walk again, was watching Key & Peele. Part of my healing process was laughter. I called my agent one day and said ‘I like this guy! He’s funny. I wanna be a part of his magic.”
With a stellar cast that includes Tiffany Haddish, Cedric The Entertainer, and Allen Maldonado, who was featured in an exclusive TSL interview recently, The Last O.G. is fast becoming a cultural phenomenon that is inspired by the contemporary experience of the black diaspora in modern-day Brooklyn.
Last night the new Tracy Morgan comedy, The Last O.G., starring Morgan, Cedric the Entertainer and Tiffany Haddish, debuted on TNT. The show takes a comedic look at the myriad of societal paradigms that have taken place in formerly Black, now gentrified, neighborhoods also features rising comedic star Allen Maldonado, who has been in over a dozen film and television series dating back more than a decade.
For me, the lore of a television sitcom set amid the projects is in a similar tradition as “Good Times” and Eddie Murphy’s “The P.J.s” as comedies set in housing projects. The obvious part about television shows set in the projects is it’s realistic from a demographic point of view. It’s no secret that housing projects have always been associated with black folks in America, in large part due to purposefully discriminatory housing practices over 70 years or more. It is somewhat surprising that I can only recall two television shows in which housing projects were so prominently featured. Themes of gentrification and the everyday struggle of your average ex-con explored in depth.
“What you’re feeling is the authenticity. It was shot right there. When you look at our show. You feel it. You’re in there! It’s like Carlito’s Way. If it would’ve been shot in L.A. it wouldn’t have been Carlito’s Way. It would’ve been another movie. We’re like right in the projects. We are right there! I was born and raised in the projects but I ain’t seen a roach in years. They ain’t got no roaches over there in Alpine, New Jersey.”
Despite the negative connotations that are circulated into the American consciousness via the rags to riches stories of your favorite rappers, your local crime blotter, and urban crime dramas of film and television, there is far greater potential to be realized than there is despair to be ruminated upon.
Of the things that poor black folk do with reckless abandon, laughter, for its own sake is near the tippy-top of the list.
Catch all new episodes Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c on TBS! SUBSCRIBE: http://bit.ly/TBSSub Download the TBS App: http://bit.ly/1qBbkMW About The Last OG: Tray (Tracy Morgan) is an ex-con who is shocked to see just how much the world has changed when he is released from prison for good behavior after a 15-year stint.
“With every character you chose to create, you have to have a backstory. For all of our characters, how did we get here? Why’re we so fucked up? What happened?” Said Morgan of his method of character development. “You gotta create that story in your mind so that when you’re playing him, you’re emotionally attached to this character so that it would jump out. You do that by creating a backstory in your mind. What happened? I went to prison, in my mind, you don’t see the shit I went through in prison.
“The shit that happened to me in prison made me who I am. My first couple of years I may have had some fights and shit, then some old timer snatched him up in the yard. And says “Hey young blood…” That’s the O.G. That’s the older person in your life that snatches up and gives you guidance. That’s what the last O.G. is all about.”
The Last O.G., headed the halfway mark of a 10 episode season, The Last O.G. is already fast becoming a cultural phenomenon.
@RealTracyMorgan dedicating the newly designed basketball courts at Marcy Playground #TheLastOG
Additionally, Tracy Morgan’s golden life has been immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and he recently gave back to the community with a The Last O.G. block party that was heavily attended despite unseasonal temperatures hovering in the mid-40s. Morgan himself braved the elements, shook hands, kissed babies, danced and showed love to those in attendance. It was apropos the affair took place at Marcy Park in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, which sits amid the Marcy Houses housing projects.