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 www.downtowncomedyclub.com. 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.