Comedian Tracy Morgan is usually all laughs, but on an episode of “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” the Brooklyn native got emotional recalling his first time performing a stand-up routine after surviving his 2014 car accident.
The two SNL alums talked about Morgan’s quirks as a comedian and gave flowers to fellow comedian Tina Fey for figuring out how to write for him on the show. Morgan also talked about his love for the show creator, Lorne Michaels, and calling him “Daddy” after he recovered from the accident.
Like a true funnyman, he turned his accident into a bit, joking that he is trying to get hit by Amazon because if he survives it he will be a “billionaire.”
When he got serious, he shared how his traumatic brain injury caused him to have to learn all of his basics over again. O’Brien asked about how he got back in the comedy groove, after surviving such a traumatic ordeal.
Morgan answered, “I was hosting ‘Saturday Night Live,’ and at rehearsals, I decided that night, let’s go to The [Comedy] Cellar.”
The Comedy Cellar is a 40-year-old comedic sanctuary in Greenwich Village in Manhattan where comedians like Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart, the late Robin Williams, and Amy Schumer have cut their teeth at or torn the house down. So popular is this stage that Jerry Seinfield, who used to be a regular, recorded his 2002 “Comedian” documentary there.
Tracy said after arriving he went to the stage and “grabbed the mic.”
“I remember it felt so good to be welcomed back. It really did,” the former SNL cast member stated. “And that day, I didn’t think I was ever going to touch the microphone again.”
“I didn’t think I was going to walk again, and I did. I just fought,” he said tearfully.
In summer 2014, Morgan was involved in a car accident with a Walmart truck driver, leaving him in critical condition, injuring other passengers, and killing his friend and comedian James McNair.
Morgan was in a coma for two weeks and spent five months in a wheelchair.
“I fought to come out of the coma. I’d seen my daughter in the coma saying ‘Daddy, come back,’ and she was only 10 months, and I fought and came out of the coma. Then I just wanted to be better. I wanted to be better at my life. A better person, a better human being to others, and that’s all I wanted to be. I know he spared my life for a reason,” he said emotionally.
Morgan talked about coming home to watch his 14-month-old daughter take her first steps and how because he was not fully healed, she was afraid of him.
“She was scared of me when I first came home,” he remembered. “I stayed in the bed for two weeks. … My daughter wouldn’t come to me ’cause she was scared of the wheelchair.”
Watching her take her first steps made him dedicate himself to taking his first steps out of the wheelchair.
The mental scars from his accident last longer than the wheelchair.
In 2015, when “Saturday Night Live” celebrated its 40th anniversary, Morgan was noticeably absent. During the interview with O’Brien, he said he watched in tears but remembered being very afraid. He also said that his lawyers didn’t want him to go on and people see him not fully recovered.
“I was bad,” he said. “He [the lawyer] didn’t want me to be there and … anyone to see me like that.”
Now, just a few years later, Morgan seems to be back in action. He just finished up the fourth season of his hit TBS show, created by Jordan Peele, “The Last O.G.,” does the voiceover for a character of the Adultswim show “Squidbillies,” and has been rocking comedy stages left and right, gearing up to perform one at the Ridgefield Playhouse on Friday, April 1, as part of the theater’s Barts Tree Service Comedy Series.
More excitingly, he is receiving his flowers from his peers. In February, according to the Hollywood Reporter, he was awarded the Friars Club Entertainment Icon Award. This prestige made him the first Black person to receive the honor and one of just nine recipients, including Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Douglas Fairbanks, Tony Bennett, Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal, to receive the century-old club’s prize.
“The Friars is a legendary part of New York City and Comedy, two of my favorite things,” Morgan stated. “Some of my biggest influences were in and out of there. … I’m following in the footsteps of greatness. … I’m humbled.”