It didn't take Tracy Morgan long to get to the heart of the matter when performing in suburban Philadelphia last spring. "Everyone knows I was hit by a fucking Walmart truck," Morgan said. "But when I was stuck in that wheelchair, I still shopped at Walmart. You can't beat their prices."
The core of Morgan hasn't changed after he survived the horrific accident. The former star of 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live almost died on the New Jersey Turnpike in 2014. Morgan was being shuttled back from a performance when his limo was struck by a Walmart freight truck.
Despite suffering from head trauma, Morgan rebounded and remains a quick-witted, politically incorrect humorist. However, his humor and outlook are considerably deeper.
"I have a different perspective after going through that," Morgan, 47, says while calling from Austin. "I've been crying. The reason I cry now is that the world lacks love. Love is the strongest thing in the universe. When I came out of that coma, I knew what my duty was. I need to make people happy."
Before the tragic accident, which claimed the life of Morgan's friend and fellow comic James McNair, the lovable wise guy was loose and unpredictable. During a 2011 interview, Morgan proposed meeting at a Yankees game to discuss a potential book project. Morgan had six tickets, and when I asked what he would do with the other four, he had an immediate plan.
"We're going to scalp the extra tickets and take the money and go to a strip club after the game," Morgan said.
After all of those years and the accident, Morgan laughs when reminded of that occasion.
"I remember that," Morgan says. "We were kickin' it."
Morgan is more sedate offstage these days. "I have my wife and daughter to think about," Morgan says. But he's still wild under the lights. "It's my outlet. I'm not going to be up there being serious. I'm about making people laugh. I want to make people feel good."
The Emmy-nominated humorist wasn't sure if he would make it back onstage after the accident, in which he suffered a broken leg, broken nose and several broken ribs, along with internal injuries. "It was hard and I'm not fully recovered yet," Morgan reveals. "I still have a way to go."
But he didn't have any doubts about returning to the set last year for Fist Fight, a comedy feature also starring Ice Cube and Charlie Day, which will hit screens in February.
"It was literally like getting back on a bike," Morgan says. "I had no issues and I had a great time with everyone. Ice Cube and Charlie Day are very funny people who made it easy for me to start this up again."
The long-awaited Richard Pryor biopic Richard Pryor: Is It Something I Said? has finally received the green light. In it, comic-actor Mike Epps portrays the iconic comedian, while Morgan plays the legendary Redd Foxx.
"I just hope I can do Redd Foxx justice," Morgan says. "He was one of the all-time greatest and he inspired me to try comedy. I want to do right by him."
In the meantime, Morgan, who takes center stage this Sunday at Hard Rock Live, will keep riffing about his life and delivering thoughts about a bewildering range of subjects onstage. "I like to mix it up. That keeps things interesting."
Little is as interesting as what Morgan says he experienced when he visited "the other side."
"It was unreal," Morgan says. "I'm just still glad to be here. I'm very fortunate. I just want to go out and do what I do best for many years. This is my passion and my life."