The problem with any show’s 40th anniversary special is that there simply isn’t enough time to get to everything that fans love. Even with three-and-a-half hours, last night’s Saturday Night Live spectacular barely felt like it scratched the surface, because a lot of us lifelong fans of the comedy institution still wanted more, especially people who only turned in to see what Eddie Murphy was going to do. But because SNL also has such a rich musical history, it was necessary for multiple stars to perform, even if you didn’t agree with the selections. Sure, they could have trimmed Kanye West’s set or taken an hour out of The Californians sketch that felt like it took up the entire show, but it was all about what was best for delivering as many beloved actors and characters as SNL could in the time allotted.
It was also unfortunate that health issues kept Tracy Morgan from appearing, as his fans are still so concerned about his status after that tragic car accident last year. We wished that the show could have found a little more time for a proper tribute to the cast member of eight seasons, but, again, there just wasn’t enough time. But because Morgan was responsible for many hilarious moments – and several of my all-time favorite characters – let’s go ahead and relive some of his best sketches for our own tribute to the guy who just has to get better.
Brian Fellow’s Safari Planet
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You might not recall that Morgan’s most popular character, Brian Fellow, actually got his start as a sports columnist on Weekend Update with Colin Quinn. Like Stefon, Brian was sort of a lost character that didn’t really make sense early on, so he was repackaged as the “director of the Southeast Asia Animal Rescue Project,” “Director of Animal Operations at the San Diego Zoo,” and “Undersecretary of the Interior for Wildlife Management.”
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Neither version was exceptionally funny, but the character became a hit when it was revealed that he was a fraud and the only qualifications that Brian possessed were a sixth grade education and “an abiding love for all God’s creatures.” Oh, and the ability to “communicate” with animals.
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Another of Morgan’s characters that occasionally showed up behind the SNL news desk was Dominican Lou, the hard-working building super who never got around to seeing the Best Picture nominees because he was too busy signing his Gary Gaetti foul ball. It’s a shame that Colin Quinn was such a cheapskate and refused to buy that ball for $1 million so Lou didn’t have to keep doing the weather for C-Dogg.
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As ridiculous as the debate over the idea of a black James Bond has been, Morgan made a strong case for the role of Lamont Bond when Pierce Brosnan hosted. Who among us, even today, wouldn’t love to see Star Jones as a Bond girl named Back Door Galore? And I guess Beyonce would be okay, too.
Woodrow the Homeless Man
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Morgan’s characters, while not necessarily “hilarious” to everyone, were a lot more ambitious than some of the show’s most successful one-line delivering weirdos. Woodrow was one of the strangest-yet-funniest of any characters from Morgan’s eight-year run, which says a lot when you consider his castmates and the characters that came out of that era. While we’d never see a Woodrow movie, NBC probably could have sold a ton of t-shirts with the slogan “I just pissed my pants” on them.
Uncle Jemima’s Pure Mash Liquor
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For the longest time, Uncle Jemima was probably my favorite Tracy Morgan SNL sketch, because of the general ridiculousness and how it wasn’t like all of his other characters. But my favorite ended up being one that I never liked in the first place, as this silly (and somehow incredibly rare) sketch now cracks me up every time I watch it…
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Do you think Britney Spears meant to say “deesparate” as if she was playing an alien with a weak grasp on the English language, or she just flubbed the line? I like to think it’s the former. Still, all that matters in this sketch is one really dumb line that makes me laugh like a stupid child.
Get better, Tracy. We’ll see you at the 30 Rock 10-year reunion special.