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Garrett Morris Talks To S&A About His Role On '2 Broke Girls' & His New Stand Up Show

by Masha Dowell
October 9, 2012 3:59 PM
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Garrett Morris

Many of you know Garrett Morris from his stint on the Jaime Foxx show, as Uncle Junior.  

Mr. Morris had already been in theater and show business for over forty years prior to being cast in that role. He is a living legend. 

He has a career that has spanned from Broadway to Hollywood, to music composition and being an educator in the New York City school system.

His career began when he sang along side Harry Belafonte. He later served as the first black comedian featured on Saturday Night Live. Currently, he stars as Earl, on the CBS comedy series, 2 Broke Girls, which debuted on CBS during the 2011–12 television season. The series follows the misadventures of roommates Max (Kat Dennings) and Caroline (Beth Behrs), both financially poor, and their efforts to start a cupcake business in the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn, New York.

Morris co-stars in the main cast as as Earl, the cashier at the Williamsburg Diner; the character is also a former jazz musician.

Shadow and Act caught up with him on this past Friday to learn more about his role on the series, and to hear about his ongoing projects.

Shadow and Act: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Can you tell us a little about your character Earl on Two Broke Girls?

Garrett Morris: The role of Earl is just an older guy, who works part time at this restaurant. He’s an ex-musician.

SA: What is the show about exactly?

GM: (laughter…) Now, Masha, you are going to think that I’m about to be a smart, but the show is called Two Broke Girls.

SA: I understand the title, but just because it’s named that, don’t mean that’s the show’s premise. Can you explain it to our readers that have not seen the show?

GM: (laughter…) That’s like asking what a show is about if it’s called “Bisexual”. Well, the show is about two girls who end up broke, and now they want to join forces so they can start a business.

SA: I read online that you trained at Julliard?

GM: Well, I actually did not matriculate at Julliard. I did my undergrad at Dillard University, not at Julliard. I know that it’s reported online that way. I studied with a professor at Julliard.

My undergrad degree was in voice and composition. I spent a lot of time arranging music when I was younger, actually I still do that. I was a singer and arranged music for Harry Belafonte.

SA: How long did you work with Harry Belafonte?

GM: I was a singer with him for ten years. But I want to add that my career includes working as a school teacher at PS 71 in New York City, as an actor as you have mentioned and a musician. I’ve had some of my compositions published. My career has been sort of a mix match.

SA: And what does that mean?

GM: It means that wherever I could go and create and make some money. I would go. I’ve done 30 or 40 sitcoms over the years. I’ve done about 20 Broadway plays and 30 off Broadway. After 1975, I went on and did TV. Right now I am doing Two Broke Girls and at my age, I feel pretty good to be doing that.

SA: Do you have any advice for comedians or others entering Hollywood?

GM: I don’t like giving advice Masha.

SA: Can you tell us about your experience on SNL?

GM: I had been in the industry for 17 years before I was on Saturday Night Live. It was the most prominent of the jobs I had back then, but it was great. It was work.

SA: Can you tell us about any upcoming projects you have going on?

GM: Yes, I have my Downtown Comedy Club, which is On November 7 -9, we will be having a blues and Comedy theme shows.

In March of this year, CBS announced that 2 Broke Girls would return for a second season during the 2012–2013 television season, moving to the 9pm timeslot. The series was nominated for three 2012 Emmy Awards, winning for Outstanding Art Direction for a Multi-Camera Series.

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  • BKW | October 11, 2012 10:25 AMReply

    While it's very true that some celebs, actors, et al, ARE tough interviews, there are still ways to get what you need to still pull off a good--or at least, decent, piece. BluTopaz gave an awesome suggestion with how to get that going, especially with a LEGEND such as Mr. Morris.

    "And what does that mean"--made me say, "Eeeekkk!" to myself! The tone gave off the impression that the interviewer was irked, perturbed, frustrated, or whatever.

  • BluTopaz | October 10, 2012 8:14 PMReply

    "SA: What is the show about exactly? " That would have been the end of the interview for me.

  • BluTopaz | October 10, 2012 9:50 PM

    Hey Carey . Well we all have to start somewhere. But I feel to ask an actor, especially a legend--to explain what their project is about esp. when it's already accessible to everyone--is odd. Masha could have lead into the question with a 'congrats on being cast in yet another hit comedy, how many does that make now, chuckle chuckle''. And "I understand the title, but just because it’s named that, don’t mean that’s the show’s premise.' gave me serious pause. Masha mentioned in the comments that she learned a lot that she did not put in the interview--well that made me curious what she learned from him, and why she did not write about it. Maybe she can include that in the comments, because I really am interested to know.

  • CareyCarey | October 10, 2012 8:28 PM

    Now Blutopaz, you can't leave us hanging *big smile*. Why would that have been the end for you? I mean, I read the responses ( Masha's & Garrett's) so tell me what I'm missing? (Psssst... between me and you, you know I know what you're probably not saying, but... :-) open the door.

  • ALM | October 10, 2012 2:42 PMReply

    Mr. Morris is truly a legend. He is one of the few African American actors i.e. Blair Underwood, Vanessa Williams, Holly Robinson Peete, etc. that is ALWAYS working. Congrats to him. It's great to hear from him.

  • BKW | October 10, 2012 11:54 AMReply

    The writing/interview/editing is pretty awful; however, it's good to read anything where the great Garrett Morris is the subject.

  • Geneva Girl | October 10, 2012 5:48 AMReply

    Many of us know Garrett Morris from SNL way back when it was good!

  • Heather Blount | October 9, 2012 8:59 PMReply

    Once again, another Masha special; full of mispunctuated, grammatically-challenged drivel. Did she actually write "don't mean that's the show's premise." And what's with the softball questions? "What is the show about?" "Any advice for comedians entering Hollywood?" Not trying to hate, but I went to school with you, Masha. #IKnowYouCanDoBetter

  • Carey | October 10, 2012 7:57 PM

    Okay you guys, since this post has turned into a "critique Masha" post, I believe, if our motives are honorable, and not rooted in some form of malicious attack, I believe our feedback should be more defined. But first, let's look at the big picture, or at least try to understand what Masha is working with. 1) What are her goals as an interviewer? Is she doing this as a simple act of helping Tambay add diverse content/information to his blog and thus does not take it as seriously as some of us believes she should? (i.e. questionable sentence structure, need for more demanding questions, cease "friendly" chatter, etc,) 2) Does she have a mentor or at least someone's style ( a noted interviewer) she admires and thus would like to emulate? I am questioning her "vision" and who's helping her create that vision? 3) How much power or influence does she take to her interviews? See, it's safe to assume that all "stars/actors" are influenced ( how they will relate or open up to the person interviewing them) by the "props" said interviewer has in their corner. To that point, I don't know how much weight Shadow and Act has going in? Consequently, as some have noted in this interview, the actor could clam up, close down or just be a tough interview. However, that being said, those are the times in which an interviewer's "experience" could be a handy tool. So in defense of Misha, we all know she has not be doing this very long. 4) What has been the depth of past advice/feedback/suggestions given to Misha... the results of which has been the seeds of change? Let me break that down. If we look at all of her interviewers, each were followed by "suggestions" and feedback by S&A's readers. After which, whether consciously or not, I've seen small changes in Masha's approach. Not only during the interview process but also in her write-up. Again I am harkening back to the questions: Are we giving her detailed and useful feedback? Who is she listening to? What's the motive and tone of our "suggestions" (are we stroking our own egos and being malicious)? And last, considering that she is a "newbie" are we being fair and understanding in our critiques? Hey y'all, in short, we all know S&A can be a tough place with a VERY intimidating crowd, so lets help and not harm Masha's chances of navigating the winding road in front of her.

  • JMac | October 10, 2012 3:28 PM

    Have to say from reading this interview the immediate impression I had is that Garrett seemed to be very closed mouthed and not interested in sharing anything. Even the SNL question... damn. It happens. Can't squeeze blood out of a turnip.

  • Akimbo | October 10, 2012 3:11 PM

    Sorry, but I have to agree. These interviews always seem disjointed with really basic questions and no follow ups. I would like for Masha to develop her skills as an interviewer and become flexible enough to get a flow going, go more in depth.

  • CareyCarey | October 10, 2012 3:54 AM

    Masha, as Nadia said, try not to engage those sorts of opinions. You're always going to have "detractors" and we'll never know the purpose nor the motives behind their intrusion. Just remember what Malcolm said: "There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time." And, if you have no critics you will likely have no success. Masha, just believe in yourself and do not EVER let anyone take that from you.

  • Masha Dowell | October 10, 2012 2:10 AM

    @Nadia thx for your input.

  • Masha Dowell | October 10, 2012 2:09 AM

    Hey Heather, you are entitled to your opinion. I wish I knew who you were though! Mr. Morris was actually a challenging interview, I captured what I could. He said he does not like to give advice. Guys, please support him though --- I learned a lot from him that I did not put in this interview.

  • Nadia | October 10, 2012 12:33 AM

    I don't understand why some folks just have be mean-spirited. To what end? There's constructive criticism and there's being just plain old malicious. The interview is fine Masha. It's not drivel. Don't let comments like this scare you. SMH.

  • urbanauteur | October 9, 2012 8:00 PMReply

    Grossly underrated actor/comedian..i remember watching the late,late movie show: The Devil and Daniel Webster directed by yet another underrated Hollywood auteur_William Dieterle and thinking about remake it as an afrocentric fantasy and casting -Garret Morris as the infamous Mister Scratch and protein actor- Roger Guenveur Smith as the lead and Regina Hall as his wife;-)

  • Helluva | October 9, 2012 4:23 PMReply

    That show is pretty bad, but glad Morris is still getting work. The writers seem to think they're more clever than they actually are...hipster racism spewed from foul-mouthed pretty (white) faces. Shit's lame & would've likely been canceled if not for Kat Dennings...

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