It’s been more than five years since Tracy Morgan survived the 2014 traffic collision that claimed his friend’s life and put the New York City comedian in an eight-day coma. But the ribald genius has arguably been at his most prolific in the years since his harrowing recovery. He’s hosted the 2019 ESPY Awards, earned critical acclaim for his nuanced turn in the semi-autobiographical TBS comedy The Last O.G. and booked more stand-up dates than he had in years, including one that became the life-affirming, characteristically to-the-point Netflix comedy special Staying Alive.
Morgan continues his victory lap on the No Disrespect tour, hitting MGM Northfield Park Feb. 29. Although few details have emerged regarding the set, the angel-and-devil poster art falls straight into the dichotomies Morgan always occupies, his thick, bouncing baritone hopping from poop jokes and macho chest-beating to deceptively wise musings on a higher power. In that spirit, we broke down a few of the comedian’s more angelic recent moments — plus a devlish zinger that still stings.
Sign of Love
In a May 2019 profile in The New Yorker, the Brooklynite revealed a sentimental side, telling writer Vinson Cunningham about the mementos he’s carried to remind him of touchstones on his long, often-tumultuous journey to fame. One was a slip of paper signed by legendary comic Richard Pryor, who Morgan unexpectedly met at the Comedy Store in Los Angeles in the mid-’90s. Morgan kept the hero’s autograph in his wallet for 12 years.
A high school track athlete, Morgan was thrilled to host the ESPYs, but not just for his love of sports. In interviews leading up to the event, he got visibly choked up recalling college basketball coach Jim Valvano’s moving 1993 ESPYs acceptance speech, which he gave in the midst of his battle with adenocarcinoma. Morgan was drawn to the award show’s mission to raise funds for cancer research because of his own family’s losses to the disease.
As part of his ESPYs monologue, the 30 Rock star poked fun at our beloved village, quipping to recent Cleveland Browns acquisition Odell Beckham Jr. that “the only reason people leave New York to go to Cleveland is if you’re in the witness protection program.” Et tu, Tracy?