Tracy Morgan tells AARP about his miraculous recovery from a near-fatal car crash in 2014, his show The Last O.G., and how to dance like a grownup.
My comedy got sharper after the accident. I see more clearly now. I see the jokes, and I see the wisdom. Comedy is tragedy turned inside out like a sock. Same thing that makes you laugh makes you cry. It all depends on how you look at it.
A higher power
Recovery is an inspiration. I thought God got me here to spread comedy. Naw, it was really to spread love. That’s what I feel in my heart, and that’s what I didn’t know before.
Money don’t make you happy, and you learn who your friends are when you’re on your back. Just better not forget who they are and who they aren’t.
Forgive and forget
Not forgiving the guy who hit us would make me bitter. We’re all guilty of it: “Maybe I can make this yellow light?” Pow! Poor judgment can get you vehicular homicide. Who wants to live with that? When it’s your time, it’s your time. I’m just trying to run my race. But if you’re afraid of death, you’ve never lived.
Always an original
My character in The Last O.G. is like me because he got a second chance at life. He was in jail for 15 years for selling crack. He’s not like me because I’m not out selling crack, but he’s like me because he’s doing it for his family.
I have an octopus, and I have a 3,000-gallon shark tank. I got a stonefish, I got a lionfish. I like to hoard things that could kill me. I’m sort of like them. I’m sitting, waiting for prey. When I met my wife, I didn’t look for love. I let it gravitate right to me.
Bullies into besties
I invited the bullies that threatened me as a kid to my home, for hot dogs. I was making people laugh that got nothing to laugh about. My oldest brother was born with cerebral palsy, so kids could be mean in the schoolyards. Inviting them for hot dogs was a survival mechanism. But it came from my dad. He came back from Vietnam and did stand-up. He was Richard Pryor funny.
I still eat Lucky Charms, though my whole thing now is Cap’n Crunch.
A new dance
When you get to a certain age, man, you’re not gonna get down on the floor. You do the two-step. I’m not trying to pull no hamstring. I’m 49 years old, brother. And I’m tellin’ you, woman, when I get out there on that dance floor and you start that Beyonce crap and try to upstage me, I’m simply walkin’ off and sittin’ down. Like my man Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon said, “I’m getting’ too old for this s--t!” I conserve energy.
—As told to Tim Appelo