Comedian Tracy Morgan turns tragedy into laughs

Comedian Tracy Morgan promised he would get back to making people laugh following a horrific car accident and he has done just that. Photo / Getty
Comedian Tracy Morgan promised he would get back to making people laugh following a horrific car accident and he has done just that. Photo / Getty

A gruesome highway accident followed by months of pain and rehab. That's no laughing matter.

Not unless you're comedian Tracy Morgan, who's mining this ordeal for laughs with his Picking Up the Pieces stand-up tour.

"I'm in a good place in my life," said Morgan during a recent phone conversation.

"When I first got back on the stage, I had to work on my confidence. But I wasn't scared. I wasn't nervous. I was excited!"

It was June, 2014, when a Wal-Mart truck slammed into the limousine Morgan was a passenger in.

The crash killed a close friend and fellow comedian, and left Morgan with broken bones and brain damage. He was in a coma for two weeks.

"I was basically knocking on The Door," he says, but adds with undisguised gratitude, "I came back.

That's the spirit moving me."

That was plenty impressive. But still it held no promise that Morgan, who has long scored laughs in concert, on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live (SNL), would ever be able to perform again.

On the Today show last June, in his first public appearance since the accident, Morgan sat clutching a cane and, with a tear streaking down his cheek, acknowledged he wasn't "100 percent yet."

"When I'm there, you'll know it," he said. "I'll get back to making you laugh, I promise you."

He made good on that promise three months later with a surprise appearance on the Emmy telecast.

By then he had made good on a promise to himself to wed his fiancee, Megan Wollover, on his own terms: walking her down the aisle with no cane.

Then, in October, he returned triumphantly as guest host of SNL, where he had been a cast member from 1996 to 2003.

"I felt so good going back home to SNL," he said."It was like the first day I was there many years ago. That first time was crazy, but to have the opportunity to have the feeling all over again - wonderful, man! And I said, 'I want to (tour) again.' That was the end of any doubts."

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Morgan, 47, has made amusing use of a lifetime of tough challenges, including a harsh childhood and health issues that included a kidney transplant in 2010.

So it's no surprise that he's dressing his latest wounds in humor.

"The accident was a setback, but, you know, in my world, a setback is a setup," he says.

"You use things that happen in your life that weren't funny - tragedy turned inside out. If you don't laugh about it, you'll cry about it. And I'm tired of crying."


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