Tracy Morgan talks recovery, new TV show and keeping his antenna up

Morgan stops by the Joint on January 12.
Photo: Casey Curry / Courtesy

In the past, you’ve had to apologize for things you’ve said onstage. What do you think of the state of comedy right now where people have to tiptoe around certain issues? I just know that PC has no place in comedy. I think people have lost their sense of humor. I’m not going to get into that. If it’s good then the comedy ecosystem will take care of it; if it’s not good then the comedy ecosystem will take care of it.

Did your accident change the way you go about comedy? No. It was an accident. It happened. My funny ain’t change.

Did it take you some time to feel comfortable onstage again? If you have a bad accident, once you take a bump on the head like that, yeah, it’s gonna take time to get your timing back, your comedy instincts back. But I got my footing back. I’m good.

How long before you felt like you were back in your zone? The second show of Saturday Night Live [October 17, 2015] when I hosted. I had a lot of support—my wife, my family, my facilitators, Lorne Michaels. I had a lot of people rooting for me, so I wanted to come through in the clutch. Put me back in the game, coach.

Do you think Vegas is different from other comedy markets? No. People laugh the same in Vegas as they do in New York or New Jersey. They’re human beings. Funny is funny. I’m not a rookie. I ain’t a beginner. I got a star on the Walk of Hollywood. I’ve been doing this stuff for 27 years.

Tell me about your new TBS show, The Last O.G. There’s nothing like it on TV. It’s not a black show. It’s a human show. It’s about second chances. It’s about redemption. And it’s the truth. No matter who you are, you can relate or identify with it. I’m glad I’m getting to do the show I wanted to do. I’ve had this idea for eight years. Me and Jordan Peele sat down, and we came up with it. We hope everyone likes it.

Are there things you miss about SNL? I miss it all. It was home. It was daddy’s house. But then you gotta leave daddy’s house. You can’t stay there. It was a great launching pad for my career, for the next level, but then you gotta go out into the world.

Will we ever see some of your more famous SNL characters like Brian Fellow or Astronaut Jones in other forms? No. I got so much more in me. I did it already, why would I want to mess with that? For you? That’s selfish of you. Don’t want you to see more? I got so much more to offer, man.

Has your persona changed as you’ve aged? Of course. I’m 49. You go through things. You experience things. Of course it’s gonna change you. I got hit by a damn truck. I lost my friend [comic James McNair]. I went through hell, but I didn’t come back empty-handed. Of course I’ve changed a little bit. More love. More knowledge. More wisdom. More understanding. All of that. I put that into my act.

How much of what you do onstage now is working it out in the moment versus written material? I want to say like 40 or 50 percent. I’m not stuck to nothing. Up until the time they say, “Please welcome to the stage Tracy Morgan,” I’m keeping my eyes and ears open. I’m keeping my antennas up. Anything could happen. I could trip getting up onto the stage. That’s funny. I’d be able to talk about that for 20 minutes.

Is there comedian right now who you’re watching? Nobody. I got a 4-year-old daughter. I got a wife. I got a son. There’s other sh*t happening. I don’t study no other comedians. I’m focused on me.

What other projects are you working on? I won’t talk about things in the future, because with my luck I might get hit by an Amazon truck this time. I don’t know. I gotta lean back and just take one day at a time, brother. I’m living each day now. We gotta slow down and take it one day at a time now.

Tracy Morgan January 12, 9 p.m., $70-$110. The Joint, 702-693-5222.

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