There is very little one can say about comedian and actor Tracy Morgan that hasn't been said before, usually by him, usually in a loud voice with inflections that imply that Morgan even shocks himself at times. He's set to play five shows over the course of three days at the Orlando Improv this week (March 23-25) and tickets are already sold out, but don't let that stop you from trying!
Born in 1968, Morgan grew up in the notorious Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. His early years weren't easy, being raised in relative poverty by a single mom and an absentee father. He dropped out of high school to sell drugs, but soon discovered that he had a gift for comedy, one that allowed him to transcend his circumstances and achieve global fame, albeit not without a few slip-ups along the way.
After debuting as a side character on the sitcom Martin, Morgan made his initial splash in the industry during his run on Saturday Night Live from 1996 to 2003, where his natural charisma and amiably chaotic style marked him as a star from almost the very start. He was probably best known for playing the outrageous Brian Fellow. Morgan managed to stand out in an era when the cast was stacked with future legends. In fact, Morgan actually got the gig after beating out no less than Stephen Colbert in the final round of auditions.
He was there until 2003, and then he starred in his own, self-titled show, which ran on NBC for one season in 2003-04, as well as making guest spots in a dizzying array of movies and TV shows ranging from Half Baked to Squidbillies, from Crank Yankers to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.
Then there's his role on 30 Rock, which aired from 2006 to 2013. More than anything else, it was his work as Tracy Jordan, the character lovingly crafted for him by fellow SNL alum Tina Fey, that will live forever in the form of countless clips and memes. If his career had ended at that point, he would have gone down in history as a comedy legend. And that was nearly the case.
All the jokes stopped, almost forever, on June 7, 2014, after Morgan's Sprinter bus crashed on the New Jersey Turnpike. One passenger was killed and five others suffered critical injuries, most notably Morgan. The crash wasn't his fault, but he paid a heavy price, breaking his nose, his leg and his ribs, along with a traumatic brain injury.
After the crash, Morgan was not seen on camera for nearly a year. It took Morgan a very long time to even feel comfortable in public, let alone on stage, but he showed great courage in taking fans through this process with him. His most recent TV role was playing Tray Barker on his criminally underrated show The Last OG, which aired for four seasons from 2018 to 2021.
Today, those dark moments from nearly a decade ago are set back firmly in the rearview mirror, and Morgan is back in peak form. That's good news for friends and fans alike, many of whom have already bought their tickets for Orlando. Do you have yours?