Tracy Morgan is a comedian on a comeback. After surviving a massive car accident when a Wal-Mart tractor trailer crashed into his minibus on June 7, 2014, in New Jersey, Morgan, 47, has returned to the stage with his “Picking Up the Pieces” tour. The tour, which began in February, comes to The Paramount in Huntington for two shows on March 12.
Morgan, who was out of commission for almost a year and a half, performed his first stand-up set at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village in October before a surprised crowd.
“He went on for a very short time, 7 to 10 minutes, but the response from the audience was unbelievably warm. I think it encouraged him,” says club booker and manager Estee Adoram. “Tracy doesn’t disappoint.”
According to Adoram, Morgan came to the Cellar several nights a week prepping for the tour. However, she has noticed a change in him since the accident.
“Tracy has become more sensitive and a little more emotional,” she says. “However, he’s always very funny and he reads the audience well.”
Comedian Ardie Fuqua, who was in the accident (which also clamed the life of comic James “Jimmy Mack” McNair), has toured with Morgan as his opening act for years, witnessing him entertain people all over the world. (He is not the opening act at The Paramount, however.)
“Tracy is really funny, and his work ethic is unbelievable,” says Fuqua, who met Morgan at Manhattan’s Uptown Comedy Club in the ’90s. “Some comedians say funny things; Tracy does things funny. His gift is his ability to manipulate his face and his vocabulary.”
Fuqua, 45, and Morgan were in the hospital together. Both were in comas and had surgery on their femurs.
“Throughout the entire recovery process, he was the one keeping me up,” says Fuqua, who has returned to performing. “He kept saying, ‘We are going back to work! No matter what . . . we are going back to work!’ ”
Fuqua says he looks up to Morgan as his comedy mentor and keeps in contact with him while he’s on the road.
“Tracy addresses the accident on stage in a well-put-together segment,” says Fuqua, who witnessed Morgan at the Comedy Cellar “He talks about life — his daughter, getting married and even makes light of being in a coma.”
In a recent tour stop at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, Indiana, Morgan even incorporated Wal-Mart into his material.
“Everyone knows I was hit by a Wal-Mart truck,” he said to the crowd, according to the Chicago Tribune. “But when I was in that wheelchair, I still shopped at Wal-Mart. You still can’t beat their prices.”
Morgan noted that during his near-death experience, he saw a white light but stayed away.
“I didn’t go through it,” he told the audience, the Tribune reported. “I thought it was the police.”
Proud of his friend of 20 years, Fuqua is pleased to see Morgan back on top of his game.
“After going through something like he did, Tracy shines even brighter,” says Fuqua. “Life is an improv — you never know what’s going to happen. You always have to adjust to it. Making a strong return like Tracy is doing is admirable.”